Global Indian International School Image Credit: Supplied

Many parents are now facing challenges in paying school fees due to loss of income or unemployment. What steps have you taken to help UAE families navigate these unprecedented times with ease?

We have launched short-term initiatives and supported that with a couple of long-term initiatives. We are an Indian school so we are currently in the first term of the school year. The short-term initiatives are mainly to ensure that when a parent has a temporary drop in salary, a temporary situation of leave without pay, or a sudden loss of job, we provide them cover for the first term. In the Dubai campus, many parents have availed of our scheme called the Global Resilience Grant. However, in Abu Dhabi, the government has launched a single scheme for schools. We have kept our initiative on hold for the moment, but we may eventually launch it for parents who may have missed out on the government scheme for any reason.

We also believe that the economic difficulties will continue for many parents and because there is a small likelihood that many of them will want to go back, we have offered four to five types of scholarships from the second term onwards.

- Amol Vaidya, Senior Director Operations — Global School Foundation

We also believe that the economic difficulties will continue for many parents and because there is a small likelihood that many of them will want to go back, we have offered four to five types of scholarships from the second term onwards. One of them is the Zayed-Gandhi scholarship — for those parents suffering from loss of job or long-term reduction in salary. We have also launched a merit scholarship. At the same time that we back people in need, we also want to support students who are showing merit even under the present circumstances. Both our initiatives —short term as well as long-term — will be given based on the nature of documents parents submit. I can confirm that 60 per cent of our students have benefited from some form of support or the other from the school, be it upfront concessions, staff ward concessions, or sibling concessions.

At a time when parents are reviewing their financial situation, many are looking at the option of moving children to schools offering high-quality education at an affordable rate? Why should parents consider GIIS?

Whether you like it or not, education can’t be purely a money transaction. It should be more about the value delivered to the student. While we accommodate people with financial difficulties, we also ensure that we offer many quality educational opportunities. We have also been hit by the crisis, but we understand that it should not affect the education of the child. We want to give them prospects that go beyond the simple transaction of the fees paid by the parent and recovered by the school. GIIS has never tried to keep education transactional and that is evident from the unique facilities and the programmes we offer.

What sets GIIS apart from other Indian schools in the UAE?

What sets us apart are the opportunities and programmes we offer. We have permissions from KHDA to offer two curriculums — CBSE and now the IB diploma. We operate an educational model called NINE GEMS(™), defined as nine characteristics of a global citizen. This covers academics, sports, leadership, technology, public speaking, personality development, fine arts, performing arts, innovation, entrepreneurship, and many other fields. We monitor and capture the performance of each child on a NINE GEMS(™) report card, in which the academic score is just one part. Under this programme, we have created series of opportunities for students. In fact, we may be the only school to have a specialised centre for entrepreneurship and innovation. We have also set up an immersion centre where we keep all the latest technology such as VR, AI, and so on. We even have our own radio station managed by children. The idea is to expose students to various programmes. We offer a virtual after school programme free of cost to all our students from 4pm to 6pm. This programme involves 45 minutes of three sessions, five days a week, offering everything from physical education, to art, music, and dance. We conduct Weekend of Wonder (WOW) programmes on weekends. Right now, we are conducting nine weeks of free photography classes in partnership with Nikon. We have set up idea walls in the campus (now online) — where teachers will put up a challenge for students to offer suggestions. We ratify and rate the suggestions and the three best ones get awards. We also have a unique programme called Student Leadership Summit, which is organised by students, conceptualised by students, and contested by students. We just offer mentoring and technical support to execute it. We also do global school exchange programmes with GIIS campuses in other countries.

We are very proud to offer one of the strongest early year programmes. When we started the virtual education, both our kindergarten departments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi outperformed all other campuses on the way our teachers managed to engage three-year-olds into the whole online teaching process.

How do you plan to conduct admissions for the term starting in September? Are you planning to offer discounts on registration, tuition etc?

We have many schemes, grants and concessions to offer. Parents have to approach us for the admission process, discuss and sort out what works best for them. Our support system is need based so we will assess the situation and give it accordingly. Our objective is to make every child who comes to us an empathy-filled responsible global citizen.

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