x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Six new Indian schools in Abu Dhabi to accommodate 15,000 pupils by 2015

The new schools will replace seven other schools - all currently operating in villas - that are due to close or have already been shut down.

The Indian Islahi Islamic School in Abu Dhabi is one of the schools that the Abu Dhabi Education Council plans to permanently close down. Christopher Pike / The National
The Indian Islahi Islamic School in Abu Dhabi is one of the schools that the Abu Dhabi Education Council plans to permanently close down. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Six new Indian schools to replace seven set to close will be ready to accommodate 15,000 pupils by the end of 2015.

One of the schools is already open, two will be ready in 2014 and another three will open in 2015.

The first of the 15,000 new places will go to 5,854 pupils at seven villa schools that the regulator Adec, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, has deemed unfit for purpose.

Every villa school in Abu Dhabi is either earmarked for closure or has already shut down, placing severe strain on the Indian-curriculum education system.

The crisis has prompted the Indian ambassador M K Lokesh to intervene on behalf of distraught parents who have come in droves to their embassy seeking help.

Mr Lokesh is in talks with Adec about delaying the seven closures until all the new schools are in place, and he has enlisted the help of the Indian business community in addressing the issue.

The ambassador is in talks with three prominent businessmen associated with building new Indian schools in the capital: the New Medical Centre Group chairman Dr B R Shetty, Emke LuLu Group chairman M A Yousuf Ali and Ganpath Singhvi, group adviser and director at Al Nasser Holdings.

“I am trying to expedite the construction of the schools and I have written to Indian business community people,” said Mr Lokesh.

“I am also putting pressure on Abu Dhabi Indian School to work on its new school, which can accommodate about 3,500 students.”

The ambassador has told Adec that the new schools will have to be affordable. “The fee structure will range between Dh10,000 and Dh13,000 a year in these schools,” he said.

“I feel that these schools will be run as community schools, not like individual institutions.”

Mayoor School, in Al Wathba South, is under construction and will be the next school ready, in April 2014. The Indian Modern Science School, in Mohammed bin Zayed City, is about 60 per cent complete and will also be ready in 2014.

Global Indian International School and International Indian School in Baniyas are in the process of obtaining building approvals from the municipality.

Abu Dhabi Indian School’s new branch is in Al Wathba South and will be able to accommodate 3,450 pupils from nursery to 12th standard. It is expected to be ready in 2015, though it is awaiting concept and design approval from Adec, which is expected in two to three weeks.

The school already open is Bright Riders School in Mohammed bin Zayed City.

All the schools are expected to operate under the Central Board of Secondary Education Curriculum of India and they will all initially run from nursery age to sixth standard before expanding.

Mr Lokesh was keen to urge calm among parents of children at the schools to be closed as everyone affected will be accommodated at other Indian schools in Abu Dhabi.

Two of the schools are to close by the end of March 2014 – the Indian Islahi Islamic School, with 1,310 pupils, and the Little Flower School with 570 pupils.

The closure of the five other schools – Our Own English High School (1,249 pupils), Asian International Private School (210), Wisdom High Private School (670), Leeds Private School (730) and Al Noor Indian Islamic School (1,008) – are pending.

“I am very confident that these students will not be affected and some solution will be found,” Mr Lokesh said.

The ambassador met Adec officials on September 26 to seek a delay in the closure of the schools.

“I requested Adec give more time for the schools to make arrangements, although I do understand that they have given instruction for the closure of villa schools five years ago.”

The ambassador says Adec assured him it would not allow pupils to go without education and that a solution would be found.

About 32,000 pupils attend 28 Indian schools in Abu Dhabi emirate – 16 in the capital, seven in Al Ain and five in Al Gharbia.

anwar@thenational.ae