UAE | Education

Schools slam KHDA report

‘No improvement’ status irks schools; principals say they spent fortunes and did their best to improve education despite fee caps by KHDA

  • By Anjana Sankar, Staff reporter
  • Published: 21:51 January 30, 2013

  • Image Credit: GN Archives
  • Future tensed: Students from an Indian school make their way to the school bus Picture for illustrative purposes only

DUBAI The Indian schools that have been rated poorly in the latest school inspections have slammed the Dubai education regulator, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), saying the government body is “far removed” from the ground realities faced by schools.

According to the 2012-13 inspection results released this week, Indian schools have not shown any considerable improvement in their overall performance. But school leaders said the government body is “unfair and unreasonable” in making such harsh judgements. “What magic do they expect me to weave with the Dh10 to Dh15 monthly tuition fee hikes they approved for my school last year?” asked an irked school principal. His school maintained the ‘Acceptable’ rating and was permitted a three per cent fee hike last year. As the annual tuition fee charged by the school is between Dh3,000 and 4,500, the monthly fee hike per child amounted to a paltry sum.

A total of 23 Indian and three Pakistani schools were inspected by the KHDA this year. Only two Indian schools, Modern High School and Indian High School, topped the chart as ‘Outstanding’ schools for the second consecutive year. Two schools that were previously judged ‘Unsatisfactory’ improved their ranking to ‘Acceptable.’ All other schools maintained their rankings without either moving up or sliding down the rating card.

“This means, despite undoubted efforts by school leaders to bring about improvements, there has been little overall success,” the Dubai Schools Inspections Bureau (DSIB), the Inspection arms of KHDA, said.

But Indian schools complained that KHDA has turned a blind eye to the progress they have painstakingly made despite the financial constraints imposed on them by the education regulator in terms of the tuition fee restrictions.

“We have invested nearly Dh200,000 in order to improve our facilities. We paid a fortune to hire consultants who worked with our teachers. After all this, what we get is the same ‘Acceptable’ rating. This is no less than a farce,” a school Principal told XPRESS on condition of anonymity.

According to another school that was also rated ‘Acceptable’, they have done “every possible thing in the book to please the KHDA inspectors” but in vain. “Our school underwent a complete face-lift. We pumped in thousands to improve the campus, revamped the teaching methodologies, appointed experienced supervisors, sent our teachers for professional training. But the fact remains the KHDA inspectors are hard to please,” the principal said.

But according to KHDA, school inspections that are in their fourth consecutive year tell a different story. Inspection reports that were out this week show there are now more students, almost double, in unsatisfactory Indian schools than in 2009-10.

According to KHDA, the leadership in half of the Indian schools is less than good, and quality of teaching is a far cry from being impressive. And worse, the inspectors noted that the schools evaluated themselves too highly.

Schools agree to disagree. “KHDA keeps changing the goalpost every year. I promise I can make the goal if at all the goalpost remains where it is,” said a Principal. “The key performance indicators change from one thing to the other. Last year it was Arabic education. This year, they focused on special needs education. If you look at the inspections, what are schools getting and at what cost? If you allow me to say, it is nothing less than mockery,” he said.

Schools have always been critical of the inspection framework that links fee hikes to school rankings. Their argument is that poorly performing schools should be allowed higher fee increases and not the other way round as is the policy endorsed by the KHDA. A comment from KHDA was not immediately available.

Comments (22)

Your comments
  1. Added 15:39 January 31, 2013

    Unfortunately, the KHDA is comparing Indian and Pakistani schools with the OFSTED/and/or other international standards and best practices. This is a common error committed by the public authorities in developing countries such as the UAE. The core assumption underpinning the inspection regime is that quality is only achieved if the practice mirrors with an international benchmark. This belief is flawed because practices are grounded in values, culture, religion and socio-political context. A school might be highly successful in terms of its promise and outcomes for a local community, but for the inspectors, mostly expatriates, such practices might be alien to their culture of belief, hence these are documented unsuccessful. I believe that best students in the UAE universities come from these schools. There is a need to stop using universal bandwagon for best practices. There are lessons to be learnt from these schools. I understand that the function of the KHDA is 'to develop a repertoire of best practices of schools in the region'. All we are hearing in the press is that how bad these schools are.

    Farhan, Khan, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 14:51 January 31, 2013

    Well, what I have observed is that the KHDA conducts surveys. These are based on the on-line survey forms that the KHDA gives out to parents through the school. These in addition to student class observation and god knows what other methods they use to judge the schools, hence the ratings drop or go up based on these statistics. Why don't they keep it simple? They not only make things complicated for teachers and the school, but also put strain on students!!! Teachers focus on paperworks with the management pushing them to cross their limits while students are neglected, because they don't get the teachers' attention. Just by seeing schools working for a week, its just not right to judge them!!! KHDA should monitor schools 24/7.

    clairvoyant, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:37 January 31, 2013

    Who is wrong - the KHDA or the Indian Schools? In India there are thousands of best schools to create outstanding scientists or experts in spite of poor infrastructural facilities thanks to the dedication and commitment of teachers. Even Barack Obama has lamented that the American Education System is trailing behind the Indian Education System. Then why do Indian Schools in the UAE fail to stand at the top? Is education just a business to make profit in the UAE and most of the people who run education institutions are mere businessmen without much academic or educational interests. The higher education in the UAE is centered on IT or Business Management. The poorly rated Indian schools are a matter of shame for India. Indian authorities must also see that the Indian schools should have the required standard and quality.

    Dr.Raju M. Mathew, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:19 January 31, 2013

    GEMS schools want to increase the fees every year and they are telling that their fee structures are less compared to other schools. Can they compare the school fees charged by Indian High School Dubai which is getting the outstanding ratings? They will never be able to charge the same fees as Indian High School Dubai and also the quality. They should check how this school is working.

    anil malkani, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 13:35 January 31, 2013

    KHDA needs to also include in their evaluation what percentage of children in a school is dependent on extra tuitions for their study. This will expose many truths about Indian Schools and teachers where tuitions are an almost necessity owing to poor teaching standards which may or may not be intentional.

    E, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 12:49 January 31, 2013

    How many of us have heard that schools back home depend on the inspection of the Misistry of Education in India? But are we not proud of the Indian education, our schools and teachers? Are they not appreciated worldwide?

    P.M, Sharjsh, India

  7. Added 12:10 January 31, 2013

    Indian Schools are right. You can't force a school to become an international accredited school with the limited resources it has. We as parents are happy with our children's education, not completely, but still satisfied for what we are paying. We cannot afford to pay more than what we are paying now.

    nazeer, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 10:52 January 31, 2013

    Firstly these schools have made it a business. They want to have more turnover every year. They don't say that instead of having 30 students in a class, they have 40/42 students. The tution fee is separate, while the transport fee is separate. They say the transportation is taken care by a different company. But when teh transport fee is not paid, why are report cards not given? Children of 4 years of age don't have proper seats in buses. In a seat for two children, three are accommodated. Why? After each KHDA inspection, it's become common for schools to hike fees. How come the same education board is much cheaper in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia? We parents are paying through our nose as there are no any other solutions. I think it's better to make our kids better sportsperson and put the same amount of money so they go into sports. We are just helpless. The meaning of education has changed in this part of the world. I request the authorities to make more government aided schools for the expatriates.

    ANTHONY, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 10:33 January 31, 2013

    Like everything in this country, many rules/regulations baffle you sometimes. Rules and changes are sudden, with minimum awareness campaigns to communicate the changes.

    Matt, Sydney, Australia

  10. Added 10:09 January 31, 2013

    The O' level school where I work has lots of Indian and Pakistani teachers. KHDA rated our school as 'Acceptable'. I thoroughly blame the Indian school management for their dismal performance. Many teachers who work in these schools always complain about their low salary structure.

    Putrj, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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