x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Every parent wants a good education for their children

For thousands of parents, the dream of quality education for their children may not be realised this year.

I held my breath as a field full of tiny tots did a co-ordinated dance, waving their arms and wriggling their legs. I expected a meltdown, or at least one tantrum or two.

But watching more than 400 of these kindergarten children sing and dance merrily was astonishing.

It was the 62nd Indian Republic Day last week, a day that marks the drafting of the Indian constitution. After a series of early morning speeches and flag hoisting, the children in the Indian community got down to some serious business: that of their yearly performances.

India was alive with celebrations last week, with fantastic parades in the capital and abroad, and expatriate Indians here in the UAE were in an equally jubilant mood. Proud parents and other family members flocked to the stands of the Abu Dhabi Indian School to watch 2,000 pupils put on a display of dance, drill and demonstrations that would've left even the most seasoned choreographer breathless.

The three-year-olds created a "garden" by waving neon coloured flowers and struggled to synchronise putting their right and left legs forward while doing the Boogie Woogie. Determined they were, and to see such discipline instilled by the teachers, I couldn't help but wonder if this was what the current panic among Indian parents in Abu Dhabi was about.

There are 17 Indian schools in the capital, of which only three offer uninterrupted education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The Abu Dhabi Indian School is one of these. Given the acute shortage of places for children in Indian schools here, many parents would like to have seen their children join the ranks of these tots, except the school is at capacity with more than 6,000 pupils attending classes.

Every parent aspires for quality education. Of course, there's bragging rights to say your child performed as a flower (or a bee or a fairy) and for someone still figuring out their left feet from their right hand, to have danced their way through a series of drumbeats and western music, is indeed exemplary, but then there is an assurance that comes with it. Your children are getting the best education you can afford to find them. And for thousands of parents, that dream will not be realised this year.