As many parents in Dubai are rushing to secure school admissions for their children for the upcoming academic year, officials disclosed that as many as seven private schools have shut down operations during the past three years.
Decisions to close down schools have been taken by individual managements but the launch of school inspections by education authorities in Dubai has been instrumental in creating greater quality consciousness as more and more parents choose to enrol their children in better schools. Officials said the appraisals put poor-performing schools out of business, forcing them to shut down.
"Seven private schools closed down over the past three years. These closures were connected with the quality reports issued by Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau [DSIB] because it is the ‘unsatisfactory' performance of the school and the lack of competitiveness of these schools that led to a decline in the student enrolment figures," Mohammad Darwish, chief of the Regulations and Compliance Commission at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said.
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"The closures of these schools were between the years 2008 and 2011 and 2,464 students were affected by the closure," he said.
Darwish said five schools were rated by DSIB as ‘unsatisfactory' and one as ‘acceptable'. One school was not inspected. The schools followed different curricula. "The parents didn't want to re-enrol their children in these schools. Besides, no more new students were looking to enrol in these schools. The schools' financial viability was affected and the owners requested to close down."
He stressed the important role played by parents in the success of schools. Research conducted by KHDA revealed that, according to parents, the quality of schools was ranked as the primary reason for selecting a school. Fees ranked seventh on the list.
Although seven schools closed down, 24 new schools can accommodate up to 39,000 students. Darwish said that the new schools complied with strict KHDA guidelines.
"The data that we have collected over three years is invaluable for analysis. For example, private schools have seen a 13 per cent improvement and public schools a 22 per cent improvement in their performance since last year. This means that about 30,000 more children are receiving an improved standard of education this year than at the same time last year," Dr Abdullah Al Karam, KHDA director-general said in the schools annual report last year.