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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Dubai school closure may force pupils to return to home countries

Parents and children left shocked by unexpected shutdown

Nikita Thakwani, right, and Fathima Farveen are sad that their EESS school has been closed down as parents look for a new school to enrol them. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Nikita Thakwani, right, and Fathima Farveen are sad that their EESS school has been closed down as parents look for a new school to enrol them. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Parents of expatriate pupils at a school that is closing next year may have no choice but to return to their countries.

Emirates English Speaking School in Dubai is set to shut after 39 years, having been given a “weak” rating two years in a row by authorities, meaning more than 1,600 children have to find another school.

Many parents said they might not be able to match the school’s low fees elsewhere and they were unlikely to be able to afford to pay more.

Charie Acla, 17, said she may have no choice but to return to the Philippines.

“I might have to go back home but the curriculum is different there,” said Charie, a Grade 11 pupil. “I don’t know anything about that curriculum so I’m planning to transfer to another Indian curriculum school. We may not be able to afford other schools.”

The school, which follows the Central Board of Secondary Education – the most popular Indian curriculum in the UAE – is expected to close in March next year.

The decision was made after officials at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s education regulator, found in May that standards at the school were again poor.

Now parents have little time to find another school. The upset also comes at a critical time for those pupils facing their final exams next year.

Emirates English speaking school in Dubai is closing after 39 years. Ravindranath K / The National
Emirates English speaking school in Dubai is closing after 39 years. Ravindranath K / The National

“It’s really heartbreaking to know that the school is closing down,” said Charie, who has studied at the school since Grade 2. “Yes, the school may be lacking in facilities but we are full of love and care for each other.

“I’m actually really scared because I’ve grown up with my teachers. At a new school there will be different teachers and I’ll have to adjust.

“I don’t want my mother to spend too much money because I care about her work and income. If we can’t find a school we can afford, I’ll have no choice but to go back to the Philippines.

“That will be another adjustment. I’ll have to study subjects I haven’t studied here.”

Charie’s mother, Ailene, told The National she had serious concerns about finding another school she could afford at short notice.

“I need time to think about whether I should send her back to the Philippines or not,” she said. “The low fees were a great help and as a single mother I could manage our rent, utility bills and the fees on top.

“Now I’m concerned about the higher fees at other schools. Our budget will definitely be disrupted and I’m stressed and confused.”

Parents of children in kindergarten at the school pay Dh3,568 a year, while pupils in Grade 12 pay Dh5,414.

Read more: 'Weak' Dubai school closing down after 39 years

“The school fees here have been very low,” said Khaleel Shubair, an administration manager at the school. “This puts a constraint on our resources and on attracting quality staff, and this in turn can have an impact on the provision of high-quality education.”

Farhanaz Javeed, an Indian mother of two, said she was desperately looking for a new school for her children.

“Parents are saying they might have to go back home because they can’t afford the higher fees in other schools, and they have three or four children studying at EESS,” Ms Javeed said.

“I’m looking for admission elsewhere for my son who’s in year two of kindergarten and my daughter who’s in Grade 3. This is their first year here and, although I wasn’t satisfied with the school, it was close to our home.”

Fathima Farveen, a Grade 12 pupil, said she received news of her school’s closure in the middle of her summer holiday.

“It was a real shock and I felt so sad,” Fathima said. “We had no warning and most of the pupils are now searching for seats in other schools.”

Nikita Thakwani, another Grade 12 pupil, said she was shocked by the news.

“I’ve been here since Grade 1 and I have memories associated with all the teachers,” Nikita said. “When people graduate from school, they always come back to meet the teachers but we won’t be able to do that.

“Everyone is sad about it and we don’t know what will happen.”

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