Some Indian schools said Arabic was compulsory in grades 11 and 12 under Abu Dhabi Education Council rules but Adec has said this is not the case. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: Parents of pupils at Indian schools in the capital have complained that grade 12 pupils were overburdened with the introduction of Arabic as a compulsory paper halfway through the academic year.

Parents said grade 12 pupils were told in mid-October to prepare for an Arabic exam to be conducted by UAE authorities in February 2014 as the Arabic language was made compulsory in grade 12 from this academic year.

Most of the pupils in grade 12 this year did not study Arabic in grade 11 last year as it was optional and there was no information about making it compulsory this year since the academic year began in April, they said.

Some Indian schools started extra Arabic classes a few weeks ago, charging an extra fee, said the parents who requested anonymity as they did not want to annoy school managements.

Some Indian schools said Arabic was made compulsory in grades 11 and 12 by a new set of regulations recently issued by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), the education regulator in the emirate.

However Adec denied this and clarified that Arabic language is considered optional in grades 11 and 12 for Arab and non-Arab pupils. It is compulsory for all native and non-native Arabic speaking pupils up to grade 10 only, Adec’s Private Schools and Quality Assurance (PSQA) Sector said in a statement issued to Gulf News.

However Adec made it clear that it is important to notice that if a pupil is seeking a UAE diploma, [after grade 12] he or she has to study Arabic up to grade 12.

But parents said most of the Indian pupils will be going back to India for higher studies and that’s why they did not take Arabic as an optional paper in grade 11 (in the last academic year).

The Adec statement shows that Indian schools have misread the Adec regulations, which caused widespread anger among parents.

“Amidst the intensive preparation for her final exams, my daughter has to attend extra classes on Saturday and she paid a Dh300 extra fee for that,” said a parent of a grade 12 pupil at St. Joseph’s School. “If the school had notified us from the beginning, it would have been easier for her,” she said.

St Joseph’s School said it looked into a new rule book last month only, which was issued by Adec after the summer vacation, to find that Arabic was made compulsory from this year. The school was too busy with other important work to read the rule book, Sister Carmen, the principal said. Regarding the extra fee, she said it goes to the Arabic teacher directly, not to the school.

“My daughter is overburdened by the extra classes before her regular classes in the morning and she paid a Dh380 extra fee for that,” said a parent of a grade 12 pupil at Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS).

ADIS said it cannot comment because its principal was out of station.

Parents of grade 11 pupils also did not favour ‘compulsory’ Arabic.

“As a science student my daughter has a vast curriculum to follow. Although I like Arabic as a language, I don’t want to overburden her if it is optional,” the parents of a grade 11 pupil at The Model School Abu Dhabi said.

The Model School said it was also following the “new Adec regulation”. “But compulsory Arabic won’t be a burden for our pupils because the Arabic classes have been introduced as part of regular classes from mid-October,” Dr Abdul Kader, the principal, said.