x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Parents get Indian school options

Application by two companies to offer the well-rounded CISCE curriculum would give students a broader and cheaper choice.

DUBAI // Indian parents in the emirate who want their children to study the CISCE curriculum, a privately administered alternative to the state-run CBSE, currently have only one option: Dubai Modern High school. But that could soon change if government officials approve two new applications for CISCE schools, each of which hopes to open at the start of the new Indian school year in April.

Many parents are upset by the lack of private schools that offer the curriculum for their children and a 90 per cent fee increase at the one school that does. The private CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations) curriculum, which was developed in 1958 and modelled on the Cambridge examinations, is thought to offer a more well-rounded education for pupils, particularly in arts and humanities.

However, many believe the state-operated CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education) curriculum, offered at 20 schools in Dubai, better suits applicants to Indian universities. The CISCE, by contrast, is regarded as a better preparation for applicants to international universities. A representative from the JSS International School in Al Barsha, which wants to convert to the CISCE curriculum, said yesterday the school expected an answer in the next few days from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the regulatory authority that handles school licences in Dubai.

If the application, made three months ago, is approved, JSS may start taking admissions as early as next week. The other applicant is the Singapore-based Global Indian Foundation, which runs schools around the world. It declined to provide any information about its application. JSS International is owned by the JSS Mahavidyapeetha trust, an Indian non-profit organisation established in 1954 that runs hundreds of schools, training institutions and universities in India.

The trust opened JSS International, its first school in Dubai, a year ago. Though a fee schedule has not been approved for next year, the school currently charges about Dh20,000 (US$5,500) for Grade 7, compared with the nearly Dh34,000 that Dubai Modern will charge once the full fee increase takes effect. If granted permission, JSS will offer the CISCE curriculum from KG1 to Grade 8. In 2011, it will add Grades 9 and 10, and in 2012 Grades 11 and 12.

Officials from the KHDA declined to say when the two applications would be processed. Dubai Modern, which has more than 2,300 students, has long had a monopoly on the CISCE curriculum. When the school announced a 90 per cent fee increase over two years last December, a number of parents expressed their desire for a cheaper alternative. In February, a committee surveyed more than 900 parents representing at least 1,300 pupils and 98 per cent said they were unwilling to pay the new fees.

Two thirds of those surveyed said they would look for alternative schooling over the next two years. Richard Forbes, director of marketing and communications for Global Education Management Systems, (GEMS) which runs Dubai Modern, said enrolments last year increased from the previous year. But some parents with children in the school feel they are not getting their money's worth. Lakshmi Raja, an engineer whose two daughters, ages 14 and 8, attend the school, said he would move them out of Dubai Modern as soon as there was an alternative.

"The fees are quite high. I am not getting value for money." klewis@thenational.ae