Dubai Modern High School at Nad Al Sheba. The father said that he does not blame GEMS, which runs the school, or the transportation company for the incident. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Modern High School, in the spotlight following the alleged sexual assault on one of its students on a school bus, has decided to postpone the annual Parental Engagement Meet, scheduled to begin on January 23.

However, the week-long event will be held as planned in all other GEMS schools across the UAE.

"GEMS has not called off the parental engagement week which is beginning on January 23. We have hundreds of events lined up across all our schools. But the principal of Dubai Modern High School has decided to postpone the week-long event to be sensitive to the parents involved. The school will have it at a later date," a GEMS spokesperson told XPRESS yesterday, without disclosing the new date.

Increasing pressure

GEMS, which has 24 schools with 44,000 students across the UAE, is under increasing pressure from parents to beef up security for their wards ever since news broke about an alleged sexual assault of a four-year-old Modern High School girl earlier this month.

In a police complaint, parents of the Karama girl alleged that their daughter was sexually assaulted by the driver of the school bus and two conductors, while returning home on November 11. The three suspects, in police custody now, are expected to be brought before the court in the next few days.

The annual Parents' Engagement Meet — in its second year now — had been planned to offer several activities designed to enrich the learning experience of students with support from parents. Lectures and workshops with high-profile guest speakers had been planned in Modern High as well to help parents arrive at strategies that could boost their children's performance and manage their behaviour.

Parents and teachers have reacted with mixed feelings to the event's postponement. A Dubai mother, who has three children studying at the school, said: "It was the logical thing to do. Things have gone horribly wrong and everyone's priority is to get it right".

Disappointment

"No one would have enjoyed themselves even if the event was held," she said. Another parent, whose daughter is in the school, said: "I am disappointed as would have liked to raise the issue of my child's safety along with other parents at the forum".

A teacher at Modern High said: "The parents' engagement week is full of fun activities involving children and parents. It is like a celebration. But no one here is in a mood for entertainment or celebration".

However, regular classes have not been affected, a teacher said, adding that the sports day on February 3 would be held as scheduled.