Dubai, Abu Dhabi: Many parents in the UAE, who have stopped sending their children to school for financial reasons, have called for home schooling to be considered as a special consideration after the COVID-19 disaster.
Many parents who have lost their jobs, have received a pay cut or been placed on unpaid leave because of the epidemic, say they can’t afford to pay school fees and that their children’s schools have not re-registered because they can’t afford to pay.
Although there are a few exceptions, students usually have to complete their school year in a regular school to advance to the next grade.
Recently, after the new school year began on August 30, some children have not returned to classes – online or in person – because their parents cannot afford school fees.
‘No other way’
Families who have taken a fortune say their children are facing an uncertain future as they see no alternative but to go to a regular school.
Rabab, a Dubai-born mother who gave her name only, said she was unable to enroll her three children, who completed first, third, and fifth grade at a British school. Her husband was laid off from work after the epidemic, she noted.
“How can we pay school fees when we have no money? We are already taking out loans, ”he said. “My children are now in high school level in Dubai but I am afraid they will have to repeat their school year when they return to school.”
‘What’s the point?’
Another Dubai parent, who gave her only initials, SR, said her two children, who are in seventh and eighth grade, were also not enrolled in the school. Her husband was laid off in February and lost his job.
“I don’t know what to say to my kids. We feel rejected by the school, where my children studied for 15 years. We have never missed a single payment before. I think about home education but if it is not approved, then what good is it? ”Said SR.
“I can’t send my kids to school right now. If I choose cheap home education, we will not get TCs, and children will have to repeat the year. It is a vicious cycle, there is no escape. So what options do we have, where are we going? ”
SR said he told the school to allow the children to study in the classroom for one month and if their fees were not paid at that time, he himself would expel them from school. “I have tried many things, but it has been rejected on all levels. The authorities should look into the situation. It saddens me to see my two boys sitting at home while the other children go to school, ”he added.
An expat from an Asian country, who introduced itself through its initials, SAA, said his son was out of school because we were “earning an income” after a family business collapsed in the epidemic.
“The school has said to pay before August 30 or we will not allow him to study – we have chosen to study grades. I had sent half of the posts explaining our situation. I told them I would pay soon as I was in the process of borrowing more money; at least consider some discount. But there was no response, ”said SAA.
SAA said it was considering studying at home to prepare him to write his IGCSE exams abroad. She wants to enroll him in a South African online school that charges about Dh6,000 annually, compared to her tuition fee of Dh14,000 a year.
‘He was not officially educated’.
A Filipino father in Abu Dhabi, who did not want to be named, lost his job in June. He said he could not enroll his five-year-old son in school. If home reading was recognized, I would sign up with a provider, as I believe money can be very expensive. My son remains legally ‘illiterate’. My wife and sister helped him learn the alphabet and numbers and other simple concepts, but this is the only thing they can do on their own, ”he added.
Is home schooling recognized?
In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) “currently does not see home schooling programs”, it said on its website. There are “other educational methods” available through the KHDA ‘Rahhal’ program. Rahhal, which means traveler in Arabic, is an approved school system that allows students to be away from regular classes for extra time to pursue learning or additional study habits at recognized institutions. However, “in order to qualify, students must be fully enrolled in a private school in Dubai”. And that means paying school fees.
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Information (Adek) recently warned parents in its parents’ guide to re-opening schools that “If you choose not to enroll your child in school, instead study at home, you risk your child having to repeat that grade once he or she returns. ”
Also, the Ministry of Education (MoE) had warned in June: “Parents should not be tempted by the low school enrollment of their children to study online at schools outside the UAE, because certificates issued by those schools will not be accepted by the MoE. ”
The advice followed reports that some parents based in the UAE were considering taking the initiative after being contacted on social media by these schools offering annual fees of less than Dh5,000.