Dubai, UAE: Amid the inspection cycle for the academic year 2014-2015, which started in October, students admit that schools are trying to ‘up their game’ through ‘cover ups’ and ‘quick fixes’.
For this reason, every year parents have called for surprise inspections at schools instead of informing the schools ahead of time, while the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which conducts the inspections, continues to say it’s not needed, because their inspectors are trained to see through these quick fixes.
Since the inspection results of each school determines how much they can increase their fees (the higher the result earned, the higher the fee increase permitted), parents believe schools are cheating the KHDA inspections by implementing temporary and quick fixes.
Students told Gulf News that their schools try to improve their performance only during the inspection week.
One 17-year-old student said during the inspection week, teachers’ improved performance is noticeable.
“The school becomes cleaner, if anything is broken it is fixed and most importantly the teachers are on their best behaviour. They have a planned lesson, they are patient and they try to truly make all the students understand, which is not the case on regular days.”
Another Lebanese student, 16, also said teachers are completely different during the inspection week.
“Teachers who usually do not care, are suddenly so involved and engaged in the class they are teaching. It is funny to watch. The management is very busy during the week as well, fixing problems here and there.
“For example, after months of complaining about smelly toilets, one of the toilets that smelled like sewage was fixed right before the visit.”
The students said preparations start a month or two before the inspections with planned lessons by teachers and maintenance work done on campus.
For this reason many parents believe inspections should be a surprise, including Manal Al Khatib, Jordanian mother of five.
“The KHDA should have our children in their best interest and I don’t see how informing the school would benefit anyone except the school.”
Palestinian father of two, Nidal Yousuf, also believes inspections must be a surprise.
“I have read in an article, that the KHDA said they have to inform the schools for them to prepare the paperwork needed. But why don’t the KHDA conduct a surprise visit after the traditional inspections have ended to see if schools are actually offering what they claim.”
In response to parent’s concerns about private school ‘cover ups’ during inspection week, Fatima Bel Rehif, Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) Director said the inspectors are trained enough to see through any ‘quick fixes’.
She said the schools are notified three weeks prior to the inspection and that in most inspections around the world, schools are notified too.
“Our inspectors have many years of international experience in school inspections, and are trained to see through any ‘quick fixes’ schools may undertake.
“We are aware that schools undertake extra preparations for inspections, but don’t believe these to be deceptive in nature. Inspections promote greater self-awareness for teachers and school leaders alike.”
Fatima also said if inspections encourage better performance that can only be a good thing for students in the short-term, but hopefully also in the long-term.
As for parents request for surprise visits she said: “During inspection, we will always look at the ‘learning outcomes’ for students, which can’t be achieved in a week or month.
“They are achieved through consistent, well-planned hard work over a long period of time. In most inspections around the world, schools are notified in advance.”
The CEO of Indian High, Dr Ashok Kumar who believes that inspections are transparent and fair said his school prepares for the inspections through following the guidelines and recommendations made by KHDA.
“If a school does follow the recommendations, it should not be a concern whether the inspections are randomly conducted or conducted at a fixed time.”
© Gulf News