x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

School's failure is a success of sorts

That a school could operate with so many multiple reported problems is alarming, but the forced closure shows that the regulatory process is working.

Every time a school closes, the shutting of its doors has far-reaching consequences: scores of teachers lose their jobs, hundreds of children surrender their school places and parents may have to dig deep into their pockets to stump up another set of enrolment fees should they even find a new school for their children. The recent closure of the Dubai American Scientific School will undoubtedly have similar repercussions, but its shutdown should be viewed as a success rather than a failure.

As The National reported yesterday, the school has been closed after a report into its conditions, staffing policies and educational standards revealed multiple offences. Violations identified by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's inspectors included unlicensed teachers, unapproved fee raises and inappropriate student behaviours.

The quality of education was also woefully poor. Attendance and discipline were found to be in a sorry state, with many children playing truant. When they did pass through the school gates, they were prone to fighting with each other and even, on occasion, with teachers.

Private education is expanding in the UAE with many schools opening every year. Education authorities have a tough job to monitor schools closely. The KHDA has been increasing inspections of Dubai's private schools in recent years. Last year's annual report found a general improvement as a result.

In Abu Dhabi, where the sector has witnessed an annual growth rate of five per cent in recent years, the Abu Dhabi Education Council has announced tougher regulations for private schools in the emirate.

The new rules come into effect over the next three academic years, and will cover all aspects of private schooling, including fee structure, school infrastructure and curriculum.

The Dubai American Scientific School's many failings could easily be seen as emblematic of systemic low standards. In fact, this closure represents a sign of the UAE's commitment to delivering high-quality education and to weeding out the weak and woeful. If that school fell on the wrong side of the line, its closure proves our education system is moving in the right direction and towards the knowledge-based economy this country strives for.