x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iranian schools still exempt from annual inspections

Iranian schools have never been part of the inspection rounds, which are now in their third year.

Iranian schools in the emirate are current not subjected to inspections from the Dubai government authorities.
Iranian schools in the emirate are current not subjected to inspections from the Dubai government authorities.

DUBAI // Five Iranian schools in the emirate remain excluded from annual inspections that rank the institutions according to the quality of education they provide.

The Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), an arm of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), began visiting public and private schools in the emirate in 2008 to assess their standards.

Iranian schools have never been part of the inspection rounds, which are now in their third year.

Officials at the KHDA said they had to exempt these schools from previous inspections because of their "unique curriculum".

Dr Abdulla al Karam, the director general of the KHDA, said in 2009 they were looking for inspectors from Iran to assess the five schools.

But the institutions were once again excluded from this year's inspections, which began in October and are still ongoing.

Naghmeh Dadpanah, the supervisor and head of the English department at the Adab Iranian School in Dubai, said they had been waiting for the inspections to begin at the school.

"In fact, when the KHDA announced the inspections we had geared up for them," she said. "We were later told that because of the lack of Iranian experts who would be able to analyse our curriculum, they would not be visiting our school."

Iranian schools in the emirate follow the curriculum prescribed by the education ministry in Iran, and subjects are taught in Farsi. English and Arabic are taught as a second language.

The DSIB team that visits schools annually is made up of a curriculum specialist, international experts and local inspectors. They review the teaching and learning practices and overall development of students to rank the schools as outstanding, good, acceptable and unsatisfactory, based on a framework that details seven inspection criteria.

A co-ordinator at the Towhid Iranian Boys School in Dubai said they were informed in 2008 when the annual programme began that none of the Iranian schools would be inspected.

The co-ordinator, who did not wish to be named, said they would like to be inspected to see where they stood in comparison with other schools in Dubai.

"I believe the school offers a good education, but it would be helpful if we have some guidance to improve," he said.

Many Iranian schools were initially operating under the umbrella of the Iranian Embassy.

In 2006, the Ministry of Education decided to do away with embassy schools, treating them instead as private institutions.

Towhid is one of the oldest schools in Dubai and is supported by the Iranian government but run by local staff.

The co-ordinator said he did not think it was difficult to find inspectors with knowledge about the Iranian curriculum.

"I do not think this is the reason we are not being inspected," he said. "There are many Iranian translators here and we have English teachers at the school who could work with the authority during the inspections," he said.

The KHDA was unavailable for comment about the reasoning behind the exclusion from inspections yesterday.

aahmed@thenational.ae