Dubai School Closure may force pupils to Return to Home Countries


Parents and children left shocked by unexpected shutdown.

[Pupils of Emirates English Speaking School, Nikita Thakwani (R) and Fathima Farveen (L), are shocked and sad that their school has been closed down as their parents now look for a new school to enrol them in. Chris Whiteoak / The National]
Parents of expatriate pupils at a school which is shutting down next year may have no choice but to return to their native countries.

Emirates English Speaking School in Dubai is set to close its doors after 39 years, having been given a “weak” rating two years in a row by educational authorities.

The shock move means more than 1,600 children now face having to find an alternative school to continue their studies.

But many parents said they may not be able to match EESS’s low fees elsewhere and they were unlikely to be able to afford to pay more.

Charie Acla, a 17-year-old 11th grade pupil at the school, said she may have no choice but to return home to the Philippines.

“I might have to go back home but the curriculum is different there,” she said. “I don’t know anything about that curriculum so I’m planning to transfer to another Indian curriculum school. We can afford EESS but we may not be able to afford other schools.”

EESS, which follows the Central Board of Secondary Education – the most popular Indian curriculum in the UAE – is expected to close in March 2019.

The decision was made after officials at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s education regulator, found standards at the school were poor for a second year running in May.

Now parents with children at the establishment have little time to find a substitute. The upset also comes at a critical time for those pupils facing their final exams next year.

[Emirates English speaking school in Dubai is closing after 39 years. Ravindranath K / The National]
“It’s really heart-breaking to know that the school is closing down,” said Ms Acla, who has studied at EESS since grade two.

“Yes, the school may be lacking in facilities but we are full of love and care for each other. I’m actually really scared because I’ve grown up with my teachers. At a new school, different teachers will be there and I’ll have to adjust.

“I don’t want my mother to spend too much money because I care about her work and income. If we can’t find a school we can afford, I’ll have no choice but to go back to the Philippines.

“That will be another adjustment. I’ll have to study subjects I haven’t studied here.”

Charie’s mother, Ailene, told The National she had serious concerns about finding a substitute school she could afford at short notice.

“I need time to think about whether I should send her back to the Philippines or not,” she said. “The low fees at EESS were a great help and as a single mother I could manage our rent, utility bills and the fees on top.

“Now I’m concerned about the higher fees at other schools. Our budget will definitely be disrupted and I’m stressed and confused.”

Currently, parents of children in kindergarten at EESS pay Dh3,568 a year, while pupils in Grade 12 pay Dh5,414 per year.

Khaleel Shubair, an administration manager at EESS, said: “The school fees here have been very low historically.

“This puts a constraint on our resources and on attracting quality staff, and this in turn can have an impact on the provision of high-quality education.”

Farhanaz Javeed, an Indian mother of two pupils at EESS, said she was now desperately looking for a new school for her children.

“Parents are saying they might have to go back home because they can’t afford the higher fees in other schools and they have three or four children studying at EESS,” she said.

“I’m looking for admission elsewhere for my son who’s in year two of Kindergarten and my daughter who’s in grade 3. This is their first year here and although I wasn’t satisfied with the school it was close to our home.”

Fathima Farveen, a pupil in grade 12 at EESS, said she received news of her school’s coming closure in the middle of her summer holiday.

“It was a real shock and I felt so sad,” she said. “We had no warning and most of the pupils are now searching for seats in other schools.”

Nikita Thakwani, a grade 12 pupil at EESS, said she was also shocked by the turn of events.

“I’ve been here since grade one and I have memories associated with all the teachers,” she said.

“When people graduate from school, they always come back to meet the teachers but we won’t be able to do that. Everyone is sad about it and we don’t know what will happen.”

Source: The National