Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Location: The real world
|Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:43 am Post subject: Students on wait lists for schools in Abu Dhabi
|This is a major concern for expats with school-aged dependents.
700 apply for 88 places at Abu Dhabi school
By Roberta Pennington, The National | September 1, 2014
ABU DHABI // Schools in Abu Dhabi are bursting at the seams because of an expanding workforce and a government decree requiring public sector employees to live in the emirate.
One school, Raha International, received about 700 applications for 88 places in its kindergarten year. The school added extra classes in grades eight, nine and 10 but “every other grade is completely full with a waiting list”, said Jules Murray, its director of development and admissions. “We took 200 and we said, ‘you’re on the waiting list’. Obviously siblings take priority.” The other applicants were placed on a standby list and will be offered a place only if another pupil drops out.
The capacity of the K-12 International Baccalaureate school has increased to 1,575 from 1,400 last year. It wants to build a second school but plans have been delayed by red tape. “We’ve had planning permission in for the past two years to build another school and we can’t get the planning permission through,” Ms Murray said. “It’s the Government, they either need to reverse the decree and allow people to live anywhere or they need to build a lot more schools.” Ms Murray has been directing families to the Abu Dhabi Grammar School Branch 1 in Mohammad bin Zayed City, which teaches a Canadian curriculum and will open on Sunday. She said a lack of school spaces needed addressing urgently. “If they just gave parents freedom to live where they want to live – because obviously they’re not getting their housing allowance if they don’t comply with the decree and come here – and just be a little bit more lenient on that, it would allow children to go to school where they’re living, which is Sharjah or Dubai, rather than having to transfer here.”
Most of the Gems Education schools in the emirate are also operating at or close to capacity. “Overall we have seen a rise in the numbers of students … in Abu Dhabi, with the majority seeing enrolment at or close to capacity,” said Dino Varkey, the company’s chief operating officer. “For example, our Cambridge International School Abu Dhabi at Baniyas, which opened last year, welcomed around 1,200 students in September 2013. This academic year, we’ve more than doubled our intake with just under 3,000 students passing through the school gates.”
The American Community School of Abu Dhabi has had more than 1,000 inquiries from parents from other emirates who want to move their children to the capital. “However, we have a substantial waiting list and could not accommodate most of those requests,” said school spokeswoman Valerie Cox. “We also had a large influx of American applications this year due to the expansion of Cleveland Clinic, New York University Abu Dhabi and an increase in US embassy applications. “Since Americans have priority, according to our by-laws, this group of applicants had a greater impact on our student population than the applications of students whose families already reside in the UAE.”
Abdul Kader, principal of the Model School Abu Dhabi, said his Indian curriculum school was “almost full” with only a few places available as families changed jobs and moved from the emirate. With 4,800 pupils, Mr Kader said he often had to direct prospective families to other schools. “We tell them to try some other place, there is no other way now because we have a limitation,” Mr Kader said. He pointed out that Adec had limited the size of kindergarten classes to 25 pupils and higher grades to 30. With 850 pupils, Mr Kader’s kindergarten classes are full. “We don’t have room,” he said. “If somebody is leaving that seat will be available. More schools are needed for middle and low-income people.”
Application numbers are also up at Aldar Academies, which operates primary and secondary schools in Abu Dhabi city and Al Ain. “There are some available spaces mainly in the secondary years at Al Yasmina School, Al Bateen School and Al Ain International School,” a spokesman said. “We have plans to open a primary and girls-only secondary school for 1,800 students in Abu Dhabi by September 2015.”
A 2013 report by Adec projected that 15 new private schools would open this academic year. The number that have opened this term is not known because Adec did not respond to requests for comment.
(End of article)