Abu Dhabi, UAE: The schools regulator in Abu Dhabi has assumed control of a private school ahead of its closure from the next academic year for negligence following the death of a kindergarten pupil in its school bus.
Nizaha Aalaa died on October 7 after being abandoned inside a locked school bus for several hours.
The Abu Dhabi Educational Council (Adec) ordered the school’s closure with effect from August 31, 2015.
A copy of the order issued on Monday, obtained by Gulf News, says Adec has decided to cancel the school’s licence (number 122) based on the law number 83 that governs the private schools in the emirate.
Ahead of the closure, the ADEC has taken over the administrative and financial control of the school during the current academic year, with effect from Tuesday, October 21, and this status will continue until the closure on August 31, 2015, the order said.
A statement issued by Adec on Tuesday cited the reason for closure as “gross negligence in maintaining the safety and security of pupils, especially in the area of school transportation”.
The Adec’s control of the school this year will ensure the protection of the best interests of its pupils. The current administration must stop all involvement in school operations and procedures.
All stakeholders involved in the school’s licensing and operations will also be instructed to prevent licensing-related procedures for Al Worood.
Al Worood must cooperate with Adec officials until the existing license expires for all procedures including transferring pupils to other schools without any inconvenience, the statement said.
The deceased child’s father told Gulf News that the stringent measure taken by the authorities may help avert such tragedies in future.
“We are satisfied with the strict action taken by the authorities for only one reason- all schools may become more careful to avoid such negligence [which caused the death of Aalaa],” Naseer Ahmad, an Indian, said.
“We sincerely hope that no family will go through the ordeal we experienced because of someone’s negligence,” he said.
He and his father-in-law expressed gratitude towards all government officials who extended their support during the crisis.
“ADEC officials visited us on Monday and said they would take strict action against the school,” Asghar Ali, the grandfather of Aalaa, said.
Ahmad and Ali said they would do whatever possible from their end to ensure that no child meets such a tragedy in future.
“We will think of private legal action against the school from our part also, asking for a compensation. It is not for money but to remind all schools that they will lose heavily, if they don’t follow rules and regulations, risking the lives of children,” they said.
The father had earlier said that he was not notified by the school about the absence of his child on the fateful day as she was left locked inside the bus in the morning.
Adec rules require schools to notify parents about absence of their children.
In its previous round of private school inspections last year, Adec officials had judged Al Worood Academy Private School as “very unsatisfactory” and in need of significant improvement (B and C, Grade 7). One of the concerns highlighted was the lack of a child protection policy at the institution.
The latest death is not the first time that a child has died aboard a school bus in Abu Dhabi.
In fact, two kindergarten pupils died in similar circumstances in Abu Dhabi in recent years.
For example, on April 24, 2008, four-year-old Aathish from India, a KG-1 pupil died after he was left locked inside the school bus.
And, on May 14, 2009, Aimen Zeeshan, a kindergarten pupil from Pakistan, was also found dead in a minibus. She died in a private bus arranged by the parents to take her to school.
© Gulf News