UAE | Education

Dubai school expels four-year-old for ‘hyperactivity’

Parents hit out at decision, claiming their son is a victim of discrimination

  • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 15:38 July 31, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image for illustrative purpose only.

Dubai: Parents of a four-year-old boy have hit out at a school’s decision to kick their child out of a summer class programme two days after he was granted admission.

The school claimed the child was excluded because he had ‘behavioural incapacities’ and therefore needed special care.

We were informed over the phone that the school management decided that would be my son’s last day in school because of his hyperactivity

Rommel Liwanag, 47

Filipino expatriate Rommel Liwanag, 47, claims United International Private School (UIPS) discriminated against his son Miggy (not his real name) when they expelled him just two days after classes opened.

“We were informed over the phone that the school management decided that would be my son’s last day in school because of his hyperactivity,” Liwanag told Gulf News.

“We really feel that they have discriminated against our son because I do not think that you can judge a child’s learning capacity in just two days of being with him,” he added.

In its latest school inspection report published in May 2012, Knowledge and Human Development Authority(KHDA) gave UIPS a rating of “Acceptable.” It further recommended UIPS should “develop provision for special educational needs including a review of the admissions policy and diagnostic processes.”

The incident with Miggy happened two months after the report was published.

KHDA, however, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

When contacted by Gulf News, UIPS Principal Dr. Eunice Orzame said: “He [Miggy] is not really recommended for the mainstream classes because of the behavioural incapacities of the child.

“And much to our desire to accept him, we do not have the special facilities for special children. And we have plans in the future to put up these special education classes, but we have to be prepared, get ready with a special education teacher.”

“He was given a chance, hoping that This kid would follow rules, obey, and behave. But then during the period that he was here for two days, he did nothing but just roam around the classroom. In fact, the teacher only focused on him. How about the other kids?” Nerrissa Villacete, the school’s guidance counsellor, explained.

Liwanag admitted that Miggy has a short attention span, is very inquisitive, gets easily bored, and is very active.

But he said that prior to bringing him to Dubai three months ago, they had him checked by his paediatrician who said that everything was normal for his age.

UIPS refunded all of Miggy’s fees except for the admission fee. They said that they’d be willing to take him in again in the future once their special education facility has been put in place.

“This is not about money, that’s not important. As parents, we really feel let down. They could have just rejected him from the very beginning. We even spent two days for this admission process,” Liwanag said.

Comments (9)

  1. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    Are these school authorities experts to say that the child can be classified as a ‘special child’? Children can be listless and hyperactive. It is very unfair to make such kind of ruling without proper diagnostics from real professionals. I wouldn't want to send my kids to such schools at all.

    Kris A, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    How bizzare! 'This kid would follow rules, obey' he describes.... in two days? that too a 4 year old child put in a new environment! He has the expectations of staff and kindergarten student mixed up for sure. I hope the authorities take up a well thought decision. This is indeed an eye-opener for all of us, a demand in the modern days, something we cannot ignore, as it is the future of a mind, a life here.

    Siad, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    I agree with Apeksha's analysis and comments of the above case, and also empathise with the parents of the child. However, the school should have done a full evaluation of the child’s capacity and only then accept him. It doesn’t augur well for a school to accept the child and then reject him on such grounds that can give him an inferiority complex and hurt the emotions of the parents as well.

    Hyder Jaffer, Dubai

  4. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    Well said Apeshka. This is a great issue. I have been a kindergarten teacher and Team leader in one of the leading schools in Dubai and have handled a lot of children with ADHD. I believe that all schools should have special trained Teachers to cater the needs of such children. In the mainstream classes, if teachers attend these kids most of the time, all other children are neglected which is unfair to them. Parents should start accepting their kids requirement and let them be handled by proper trained people so that there could be more Einsteins among us. Parents, please don't be shy to admit the special requirements of your kids. Let them show their special side to the world.

    Sadia Monem, Islamabad, Pakistan

  5. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    When the father admits that “Miggy has a short attention span, is very inquisitive, gets easily bored, and is very active”; what else is there to justify the attack on the school? I believe the school did the right thing, and they have the right to do that. Mr. Vinod Methil, if your son was in the class with a boy like this, would you object to a decision like this?

    Ali Mohamed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    This news is very alarming. Few days back I went to my pediatric and told her that my 8 months daughter loves tv, baby programs and she told me to stop it completely. This causes attention problem in the kid. After reading this news, am shocked and upset. I was not assuming that such a small thing can cause so much harm to children. Dear parents, please be careful. These kinds of issues arise only because we parents are not aware of many facts.

    SK, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    Such news really make me wonder what people want. That is just a child for heaven's sake, its normal for his age. It’s not a military camp, and what children are expected to do first few days of school are to play and interact getting to know other kids, this makes learning much more easier for them. Expelling this child is traumatising, nobody wishes to be rejected, that's why babies cry when left alone. If he is being treated as a child with special needs, then how would children with autism be treated? Please the children of today are the future of tomorrow, when we hear someone got into a hall or school and shot everybody, it starts with things like this, when a child starts getting traumatised and rejected at such yound age, he grows with bitterness and anger and then tragedy sets in.

    veronica, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    “He was given a chance, hoping that This kid would follow rules, obey, and behave. But then during the period that he was here for two days, he did nothing but just roam around the classroom..............ARE YOU REALLY TALKING ABOUT A 4 YEAR OLD LITTLE BOY?? Are you trying to justify yourself for having granted 2 whole days for a little boy to change his attitude? Arent you feeling ashamed to say so so openly?

    Vinod Methil, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 19:25 August 9, 2607

    This is really unfortunate for the child and the parents. But I think this child does need a specialized approach to learning. I think its important for the parents to understand that this does not mean that the child is 'special' or incapable of learning at all! For all you know he may be just a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)- It certainly seems so from the description of the child's behaviors. More than a pediatrician the child should be be recommended to a trained counselor or child psychologist. This news item, more than highlighting the school's incapacity to handle all kinds of pupils and integrate them in to the educational system, highlights the stigma that is associated towards those with different learning capabilities. Parents don't understand that this is like hammering a square peg into a round hole! The don't understand that even if the child is finally accepted, because of his/her inability to match up to their peers in studies this can do irreparable damage to their self esteem and confidence. There is nothing wrong with having different learning disabilities. Prominent entrepreneurs, inventors and artists have been known to be dyslexic or have ADHD. The sooner the parents are out of denial and find out more about their child's learning and behavioral characteristics the better it will be to address this with the right kind of learning method.

    Apeksha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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