Abu Dhabi: Parents lauded a decision to freeze admissions at 24 low-performing schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, but also expressed concerns about its effect on the availability of school seats.

While the move will force schools to prioritise the quality of learning they offer, the freeze on admissions could make it difficult for parents who are looking to enrol their children in schools, they added.

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) announced the ruling on Tuesday for 24 facilities that failed to show any improvement in the council’s last three inspections.

According to a statement sent by the Adec, some of the institutions previously received up to two warning letters, and were not even allowed to enrol new pupils.

“Ensuring the quality of education must always be a priority, and it has definitely risen over the last few years. But this freeze on admissions should not compromise on children’s right to acquiring an education,” said Mohammad Saidalavi, 42, head of a social organisation and a father of three from India.

“My children are enrolled at three different Indian curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi simply because it was difficult to find admission in the first place. I just hope that along with this decision, additional seats will also be created at other schools,” he added.

Sunanda Pandey, 43, a homemaker and mother of two from India, agreed.

“Many schools compromise on quality knowing that there is a great demand for seats in Abu Dhabi. So the Adec decision is much needed. At the same time, the authority should also ensure that there are enough places for all new children who come to Abu Dhabi,” she added.

Abu Dhabi has 186 private schools at present, and these are inspected every year and ranked on a six-point scale. For the first time since school inspections started in 2009, three schools have been rated this year (2016) as ‘Outstanding’, the top tier a school can achieve. These are Al Muna Primary School, Al Mushrif Primary and Al Bateen Secondary School, and Raha International School.

At the same time, the freeze on admissions for low quality is also unprecedented. While the names of the low-performing schools were not revealed by the Adec, a number of institutions are ranked as ‘Very Weak’ on their 2016 inspection reports. These reports are available on the authority’s website, and officials have urged parents to refer to these before making enrolment decisions for their wards.

Mahran Hussain, 26, has a sister who previously attended a school that is now rated as ‘Very Weak’ by the Adec.

“The level of education there is dismal and although my sister is now in a better school, it is very difficult for her to perform well in school. She simply did not learn the basics of complex subjects like Maths and Science, and it is therefore hard for her to do well now. So the Adec move is a good one and I hope it will ensure that schools take education, especially teaching quality, seriously,” he explained.