Dubai, UAE: The contract scheme between parents and schools in Dubai is being extended to the emirate’s 34 Indian and Pakistani schools, with about 80,000 pupils.
The legally binding contracts must be signed within the first few weeks of the new academic year, which begins in April, or pupils risk being denied entry.
The scheme began in 2013 as a pilot programme in six schools, and now operates in 24 schools with nearly 40,000 pupils.
The contracts spell out the mutual responsibilities of schools and parents on admissions, fees, curriculum and educational programmes, attendance and punctuality, attitudes and behaviour, health and safety, transport and communication.
Dubai’s private schools regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, says the number of complaints has fallen by 20 per cent because schools and parents now find it easier to resolve their disputes internally.
“A constructive relationship between the school and families is key to ensuring that the rights of both are protected,” said Amal Bel Hasa, head of compliance at the KHDA.
“It is beneficial for both parties if these terms and conditions are clearly outlined in a contract. We encourage all parents to ensure that they’ve read and understood the contracts and sign them before the start of the new academic year,” Ms Bel Hasa said.
The contract says schools may not require additional fees from parents during the academic year. However, if parents repeatedly fail to pay the required fees on time, a school may refuse to accept their child for the following academic year and withhold the pupil’s progress report.
Parents are contractually required to provide schools with accurate medical, psychological and educational assessment records to ensure pupils’ safety at school.
They must also notify the principal in writing if their child has a learning difficulty.
The school can ask parents to withdraw their child if the school “suspects that such vital information about special needs has been deliberately withheld”, the contract says.
The contract also covers online and other forms of bullying, and warns both parents and pupils to avoid any form of defamation or intentional harm on social media, even after school hours.
“The school has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in all its forms,” the contract says. “Instances of proven and intentional bullying will result in immediate expulsion of the aggressor from the school. The matter will be referred to KHDA for ratification.”
If a dispute arises, the contract lists a six-step process that parents must follow before they can take the issue up with the KHDA.
Head teachers welcomed the extension of the scheme.
Abdullakutty Valappil, principal of the Indian-curriculum Little Flowers English School, said the contract added teeth to long-standing regulations and made everyone’s roles more transparent.
“It is a good step taken by the KHDA, it’s going to make things clearer for both parties, the schools and the parents. If a contract is signed, the schools are more responsible, and also expect more from the parents also with regards to the children’s education.”
Aninda Chatterji, principal of Gems New Millennium – Al Khail school, said: “Some of the schools, for example Gems schools, used to have a kind of contract with parents, but many of the other elements, like the parents’ rights and duties towards the school, were placed in other documents which the parents, although they were supposed to, may not read at all.
“Now, what is going to happen with this document is everything is in one place. So they read it, they sign it, they know exactly what they can expect.”
© The National
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