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15 villa schools to close in Abu Dhabi

Five new schools to open by September 2013, offering 6,000 additional seats

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A total of 15 villa schools in the capital will soon close their doors, with the last of them expected to shut down operations by July 2014, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) announced in a statement sent on Tuesday.

Three of the 15 villa schools — Al Rawafed Private School, Al Shohub School and Al Salam English Private School — will relocate and resume operations in September 2013 from purpose-built school buildings that meet Adec guidelines and standards.

Seven of the other villa schools will shut down this month (July 2013) at the end of their 2012-2013 academic year, while two Indian curriculum schools will close in March 2014 at the end of their 2013-2014 academic year. The remaining three schools will close in summer 2014 at the end of their 2013-2014 academic year.

Since 2009, the Adec has been closing down villa schools in the emirate due to health and safety concerns for pupils in the non-purpose-built villa facilities. The latest set of closures that are expected to finish by July 2014 means that only 20 villa schools will be operational afterwards, compared to 72 villa schools in 2009.

Hamad Al Dhaheri, executive director of private schools and quality assurance at the Adec, said that some schools had complied with the Adec requirement to relocate to “proper school buildings”.

“We will continue to provide these serious and capable schools with our full support as they complete the development of their new facilities,” he said.

“Unfortunately, many villa schools have failed to fulfil the legally binding commitments they made with the Adec to develop new purpose-built premises. Although deadlines for action were set and extensions provided, these school authorities have been unable to demonstrate that they are serious and capable about developing facilities that adhere to Adec quality and safety standards. As the industry regulator, the Adec has therefore been forced to close down these villa schools,” Al Dhaheri added.

The Adec statement added that parents of children enrolled at the villa schools have already been notified about the upcoming closures. They have also been urged to communicate with the schools to obtain all documents necessary to facilitate the transfer of their wards to other schools.

In addition, five other new schools are expected to begin operations in September 2013.

Hamad Al Dhaheri, executive director of private schools and quality assurance at the Adec, said this means that nearly 6,000 additional private school seats will open up in the capital by September 2013.

“This is a net increase of over 3,500 seats when taking into account the villa schools that are closing this summer,” he said.

Among the new facilities are three new private schools, which are offering a limited number of school seas at discounted rates to pupils displaced by the villa school closures. The schools — International Community School LLC Branch 1, GEMS Winchester School LLC and Summit International School LLC — will be housed in government school buildings provided by the Adec. Parents have already been informed about the discounts, and have been urged to register early as the seats are being offered on a first-come first-serve basis.

The other two brand new private schools that are set to begin operations in September 2013 include GEMS Cambridge International School in Bani Yas, and Al Diyafah Private School Mohammad Bin Zayed City. Both schools are expected to offer the British curriculum.