The rule has caused panic among some parents but education officials say it will assist them and help improve security.
ID card now a must for enrolments at schools
ABU DHABI // Enrolling a child at one of the increasingly popular state schools in the capital will be impossible for those who do not have Emirates ID cards.
There was a 14 per cent increase in the number of pupils enrolled in government schools this year as many left private schools to return to the state system.
To accommodate the demand, about 100 new state schools will open in the next 10 years, but no new enrolments will be considered when registration opens this Sunday unless the child has an ID.
"The ID card is a new requirement from this year and will be one of the documents parents will have to hand in if they want an admission at schools," said Mohammad Salem Al Dhaheri, the executive director of School Operations at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).
Authorities said most pupils do not have ID cards. For now, the requirement applies only to new, and not returning pupils - but it will be made mandatory for all pupils at a later stage.
"We are trying to find a way to endorse the importance of the ID card," said Humaid Ibrahim Abdulla, the division manager of Student Services.
"It is needed for better security, keeping track of pupils and contributing to the statistics database. Because it was not mandatory before now, unfortunately no one did it."
The registration window for Emiratis closes on March 22 and extensions will only be granted under special circumstances, Adec said.
The new requirement has caused panic among some parents.
Asma A, a single parent of a 10-year-old who plans to move her child to a government school next year, said it will complicate things for her. "I am divorced and the father of my children never got around to making their ID cards," she said. "I will now have to consult with him and get them made but worry that it will not happen in time."
She said she would like the authorities to assist in the process. "We should have been informed a little earlier. I hope the school helps out."
Along with the ID card, parents who want to enrol their children in Grade 1 have to submit a passport copy and a birth certificate that is endorsed by the kindergarten they attended.
Emirati mothers married to non-Emiratis will have to submit their family book and the passport and resident visa of the child.
For those entering higher grades, parents will have to hand in the child's previous report cards.
Workshops were held for principals this week to prepare them for the admissions procedures that will take place at their schools.
Fauzia Abdulla, the principal of the Al Hafza School said the new rules were necessary.
"It is standard documentation and we will be very strict with what they need to submit for admission."
School principals will also conduct interviews with prospective pupils for the first time. Mr Abdulla said the aim of the interviews was to identify the appropriate education needs of the pupils.
"It will be a basic interview but this will help us identify children who may have special education needs and then offer them the appropriate support."
Authorities have also warned schools against admitting children who are not from the area.
"Parents will have to stick to a school in their residential area. Schools should not entertain parents from far-off locations."
According to Mr Abdulla this practice has been putting a pressure on the transportation system and limits spaces for children from popular localities.
"It's a way to manage the travel time and traffic problems in the city as well."
Expatriate pupils - including children of GCC nationals, diplomats and orphans sponsored by Emiratis - can apply at government schools, too. However, schools cannot accept more than 20 per cent non-Emiratis, and only after priority has been given to placing Emirati pupils. Candidates for enrolment must have scored more than 90 per cent in English, Arabic and Mathematics in their previous exams to be eligible. Enrolment for expatriate pupils begins on March 18 and ends on March 22.