x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai schools survey seeks parental input

A new survey is giving more than 60,000 parents a chance to voice their opinions about the cost and quality of education in the emirate.

DUBAI // A new survey is giving more than 60,000 parents a chance to voice their opinions about the cost and quality of education in the emirate.

The parents are being polled in a survey sent out by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB), and the feedback will be used as part of the assessment of individual schools in the emirate.

"The parents are able to answer our questions online, just before their child's school is due to be inspected," said Jamela al Muhairi, the chief of DSIB.

Questions cover fees, the amount spent on additional private tuition, and the degree to which they feel the school keeps their kids safe and healthy.

"This means that our inspectors have another viewpoint to consider when they visit a school," said Ms al Muhairi.

An annual inspection to gauge the quality of schools in the emirate was launched by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in 2008.

Now in its third year, school inspectors will take parent feedback into account when putting schools into four categories: outstanding, good, acceptable and unsatisfactory.

Other questions allow parents to rate the quality of education at the school, including how well it teaches Arabic, Islamic education, mathematics, science, English, extra-curricular activities and the school's communication policy.

This is the first time that the authority has asked for parent feedback on the cost of schooling, and asked about the annual household income parents spend on private education.

Nearly 30,000 parents have already responded to the questionnaire. "We are urging all parents to take the time to answer our questions," said Ms al Muhairi. "They are completely confidential and the picture they give us about how our schools operate is invaluable."

Escalating fees at private schools in the emirate have been a bone of contention for some parents, who pay between Dh12,000 and Dh60,000 for education annually.

One parent, Murad Sheikh, said the survey showed the authority was listening, but questioned whether it would translate into action.

"It's a good opportunity for KHDA to find out what parents think, but I would like measures that would help regulate the costs as well," she said.

The annual inspection reports are due out in the first half of next year, and will include a summary of parent responses.

aahmed@thenational.ae