Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

School merger plan met with mixed feelings from parents

In September, staff and pupils from the Dubai American Academy (DAA) in Barsha, the emirate’s only 'outstanding' American curriculum school, will move to the nearby Gems Nations Academy to create the Dubai American Academy – Nations.
Gems Nations Academy will take in students from Dubai American Academy which is closing down. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Gems Nations Academy will take in students from Dubai American Academy which is closing down. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Parents welcomed Gems Education’s plan to merge two of its flagship Dubai schools but were concerned about the upheaval on their children’s studies and possible increases to tuition fees.

In September, staff and pupils from the Dubai American Academy (DAA) in Barsha, the emirate’s only “outstanding” American curriculum school, will move to the nearby Gems Nations Academy to create the Dubai American Academy – Nations.

While the newer facilities of the Nations Academy were welcomed, parents were concerned that DAA’s rating with Dubai’s education regulator the Knowledge and Human Development Authority could be affected.

“Moving to a grand campus, which is state-of-the-art and too good to be true, is like owning a white elephant,” said one mother who has children in Grades 4 and 6 at DAA.

“The management will always have a good reason to increase fees every year just to manage such a palatial place.

“Eventually parents like us won’t be able to afford and will leave the school.

She said she would rather Gems invest in improving the quality of teaching instead of spending lavishly on infrastructure.

“The overall quality of teaching is good but it’s slowly going downwards,” she said.

“There are few good teachers but there are also few bad teachers as well. As a parent, I want a quality education not a high-end building.

“I am not sending my children to such an expensive school for the facilities. I am sending them for a good education only.”

Despite some parents’ misgivings, Lamis Ezzeldin was happy to get a facilities upgrade.

“The DAA building was getting old and there were many maintenance issues,” said the Egyptian mother, whose two children are in Grades 6 and 3.

“It will be amazing if we will get a better place in the same fee structure.”

James Mullan, co-founder the websites WhichSchoolAdvisor and SchoolsCompared, said the merger was a smart move.

“Gems Nations is the most expensive school in Dubai in terms of list pricing,” said Mr Mullan.

“Many of its ideas were very new, such as computer coding as a third language, while other ideas were new for the region, such as co-teacher model.

“On the other side of the equation you have a flagship school like DAA that has pupils but is in a building that needs upgrading. DAA is the only outstanding US curriculum school in Dubai and at GEMS. Clearly the group wants it to retain this ranking.

“We hope that some of the best ideas are retained into the new campus.”

akhaishgi@thenational.ae

Updated: April 13, 2017 04:00 AM

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