Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Dubai pupils reportedly locked in school gym could need counselling, says expert

Dr Yaseen Aslam, a consultant psychiatrist, said the children might suffer from anxiety as a result of the ordeal

Dr Yaseen Aslam, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at the Psychiatry and Therapy Centre in Dubai. Ravindranath K / The National
Dr Yaseen Aslam, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at the Psychiatry and Therapy Centre in Dubai. Ravindranath K / The National

Dubai pupils reportedly locked in a gym after their parents failed to pay school fees should be given psychological counselling, an expert has said.

Mental health professionals warned that being detained against their will would likely have been extremely traumatic for the young children involved.

Speaking to The National, Dr Yaseen Aslam, a consultant psychiatrist, said pupils could suffer from nightmares and anxiety as a result of the ordeal.

He claimed children already going through the emotional disturbances of adolescence were particularly vulnerable.

Schools are not allowed to stop pupils from completing their academic year or appearing for examinations due to non-payment of fees

KDHA

“I think that it's extremely emotionally traumatic for young children to be detained against their will by a higher authority such as a school,” said Dr Aslam, medical director at The Psychiatry and Therapy Centre in Dubai Healthcare City.

“That restriction of liberty, for any human being, is a traumatic experience, particularly so for school-going children as they are vulnerable, fragile and going through the emotional disturbances of adolescence.

“There are children who have difficulties such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression or autism, and being detained against their will would be damaging to their already fragile mental health.

“The children who were detained should receive counselling and professional support.”

The National reported last week how a group of pupils had allegedly been held in a gym at a school in Al Qusais in Dubai due to non-payment of fees.

A video of pupils in a school corridor demanding their classmates be released was posted on social media and police began an investigation.

The incident was also reported to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s private schools regulator.

Officials said the body had been sent evidence of the incident and was also looking into the matter.

Last week, David Cook, headmaster of Repton School Dubai, which was not involved in the incident, explained that school staff always tried to be as flexible as possible if parents were known to be struggling with school fees.

“Most schools try to meet the parents and agree on a flexible payment plan,” he said. “We recognise that if parents not are paying the fees, there is a reason.

“We don’t just want to penalise. Schools want to work with parents and find out if the school should do anything differently to be more flexible.”

Amal Belhasa, a senior executive at KHDA, said: “As per regulations, schools are not allowed to stop pupils from completing their academic year or appearing for examinations due to non-payment of fees.”

"Schools can withhold final examination results and transfer letter until the fees are paid in full as agreed between both parties in the parent-school contract.

"While parents are usually committed towards their financial obligations, those who need the flexibility must engage with the school and work towards agreeing on a suitable payment plan.”

Updated: February 16, 2020 01:33 PM

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