Fees at the Indian curriculum school located in Al Safa are around Dh4,500 on average, one of the lowest in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Parents of students at Emirates English Speaking School (EESS) in Dubai, which is closing in March 2019, raised their concerns with school management during their first meeting regarding the issue on September 1.

Parents later told Gulf News that they face the difficult choice of moving their children to another school or continuing with EESS in its final year.

Fees at the Indian curriculum school (CBSE) are around Dh4,500 on average, one of the lowest in Dubai. Its official ‘weak’ rating means it can only raise fees marginally, with no fee increase allowed this academic year under current rules for private schools in Dubai.

The school located in Dubai’s Al Safa area said it would close down in March 2019 because of a limited budget stemming from low fees. In July, its administration manager said that limited resources meant it could not afford quality teachers or ensure quality education.

Wahid Basri, a father of a child at the school, said: “I only learnt about the closure in the summer break and have not been able to find another school that will take my child. This [September 1] is the first time parents were called for a meeting about the closure.”

He added: “Some teachers are looking for other jobs; there are only six months left for EESS. I have to ask myself, is there a point in my child continuing in the school?”

Like other Indian schools, the academic year at EESS started in April and ends in March 2019.

The school opened in 1979 and was rated ‘acceptable’ in annual inspections for many years. However, in the last two inspections, its rating fell to ‘weak’.

Another parent, a mother of two children in grades 2 and 3, said she has not been able to find another affordable school with space for her children.

“I had already re-registered my children in March [at EESS] at a cost of Dh1,200. The school then says, after the term ends, ‘we are closing’. I found other schools willing to take my children; they have space; but I cannot afford them,” she added.

“If I continue with [EESS], is there a guarantee all the teachers will be there, and that they will give their best to my children?”

A father of four children at the school said it was difficult to change schools because his children like EESS.

Principal’s view

S.S.U. Tabrez, principal of EESS, told Gulf News that EESS is “trying to get them [students] placed in other schools”, but he did not list the schools or comment on how well the process is going. However, parents have been informed of the schools in question, Tabrez said.

“Any school will keep the students in mind. The prime motive for schools is the interest of students. Right now, the main concern for us is grades 9 and 11; they have to be registered for the CBSE board exams next academic year for grades 10 and 12,” he added.

Tabrez said EESS will continue “as normal” for the remainder of this academic year. Speaking about the September 1 meeting, Tabrez said “the children have a right to know, and there will be more meetings”.

A senior official of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which regulates education in Dubai, had in July said the school’s request to close down had been approved, adding that the school had “put in place a plan to ensure students affected by the closure can be accommodated in other schools and it will help parents and pupils with a smooth transition”.