x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Schools feel the heat as deadline for Abu Dhabi residency rule draws near

Local schools are feeling the pressure of increased student body with the new government decree that has Abu Dhabi employees have to live in the emirate.

ABU DHABI // As Abu Dhabi Government employees start the great migration from across the Emirates, local schools have begun to feel the pressure to accommodate new students.

And with few seats available at this late date, some pupils will have to be wait-listed.

"Almost all of our seats are finished," said Abdul Kader V V, principal of The Model School in Abu Dhabi. "We only have six seats left and around 10 to 15 people have approached us so far."

The school has already given some slots to pupils coming from other emirates.

"When people leave another emirate, they have to apply for a transfer certificate," he said. "Once all the documents are brought, then we can consider the admission."

But with the increasing number of residents moving to Abu Dhabi, not all children can be guaranteed a seat.

"If seats are available, then we can admit pupils until January," he added. "But people have to approach schools to find out about seat availability."

Some schools will have to readjust to the influx.

"We are currently oversubscribed," said Nasser Lone, head of secondary at Al Ain English Speaking School.

Although the school has no policy for denying places, there are a number of factors that determine admissions.

"Adec regulations include no more than 30 in a class," said Mike Smith, the school's principal. "We have waiting lists for most year groups but will not exceed Adec recommendations and regulations."

He said building regulations for schools also prevented them from constructing extensions to house an increase in students.

"We are currently running at approximately 1,100, which is close to the maximum the school can accommodate," Mr Smith said. "Our current waiting list would obviously have priority if vacancies occur."

Most schools in Abu Dhabi are in a similar situation.

"Our school doesn't have a lot of seats available," said the head of faculty at the Mzyed School in Al Ain. "This influx would really affect the enrolment and the class sizes, both for public and private schools."

With more than 1,200 students currently enrolled, the school is starting to feel the strain.

"It's the pressure of education because if you have an open seat, you need to plan as a school that that seat can be filled," she said. "You can't deny a child who's physically moved their residence their right into the school so people have to just plan."

In the meantime, residents will have to rush to ensure their children nab one of the last few seats.

"I can't give more seats away but we can put names of students who want to attend our school on a waiting list," said Salam Al Haddad, the principal of Al Suqoor, a Cycle 2 school for children ages 11 to 15. "But I think a lot are moving to Bani Yas and Falah because there are many schools there."

Although Mr Al Haddad believes Abu Dhabi schools will be able to accommodate the large influx of pupils, he expects some children to remain in other emirates.

"I think some fathers will move alone and keep their family in other emirates," he said. "We expect a high number of children to move but not too high. We can't keep students at home, though, so even if we don't have space for them, we have to accept."