Abu Dhabi: Schools in Abu Dhabi say they have been forced to call off a range of sports and recreational activities following new safety regulations issued by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
Under the new rules which came into effect on January 22, schools cannot take students out of the campus without ADEC’s permission.
Schools are now required to seek a 45-day clearance for student participation in events and competitions outside their premises, a school principal told XPRESS.
ADEC has also barred outsiders from entering the campus without permission. The ban covers coaches and other professionals who visit schools for special classes.
Schools are also required to submit a detailed report of each event and its risk assessment which will be reviewed by an ADEC committee.
Since the rules came into effect, many schools have suspended after-school coaching sessions conducted by professional sport organisations like E-sports. Music, dance, dramas, art sessions, excursions and field visits have also been cancelled by many schools.
In response to an XPRESS query, ADEC said: “The Licensing and Accreditation Section in ADEC’s Private Schools and Quality Assurance sector requests that all private schools adhere to necessary property safety measures when running any sort of activity. Many schools have continued their activities without disruption after complying with ADEC’s requirements, which include submitting all supporting documents, parents approval, risk assessment sheet, as well as the activity or trip objective, and the provider clearance forms.”
However, the move has not gone down well with schools.
“We understand the importance of student safety, but we doubt the feasibility of such a rule as it is impossible for schools to plan student activities a month and a half in advance,” said a principal at a school.
He said scores of students won’t be able to take part in inter-school competitions scheduled for the coming months because of the new rules. “There are athletic meets, swimming contests and cultural feasts that students attend throughout the year. I wonder if ADEC has the manpower to deal with hundreds of requests that will pour in from various schools in the capital,” said a management official at an international school.
He said the new rule severely impacts extracurricular activities. “The ADEC circular says guests without a valid Emirates ID are not allowed in the campus. This means we cannot bring in guest speakers, authors, musicians and professional coaches from other countries. We also coordinate with professional and cultural organisations within and outside the UAE to conduct special events for students. What happens to them now?”
Parents said they are disappointed by the new rules and urged authorities to reconsider their decision. “My daughter used to take ballet classes at her school. She was preparing for a competition in Dubai. But now the classes have been cancelled,” said a frustrated European mother.
Another parent said he has paid upfront for tennis and football lessons for his two children aged 8 and 12. “The E-sport sessions my kids attend at their school have been abruptly cancelled. I do not want a refund. I want my kids to be able to purse their favourite sport,” said the Emirati.
An Indian parent said he has been forced to find a cricket coach for his 10-year-old son after practice sessions at his school were cancelled last month.
Schools said they are aware of the concerns of parents and are working on ways to come up with a solution.
YOUSPEAK: What do you think of the new safety regulations?