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English Medium Elementary Schools in Sharjah-Dubai?

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Nutty Bob

Joined: 13 May 2004
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 6:20 am    Post subject: English Medium Elementary Schools in Sharjah-Dubai? Reply with quote

Hello Everyone,

I could really, really use some help from parents of children attending English-medium elementary schools in the Sharjah-Dubai metro area.

I will begin a teaching job in Sharjah in the Fall, so my wife and I must find a suitable school for our nine-year-old boy to attend. Although he isn't our only child, he is the only one left in the nest, so we want to give him the best we can in the way of schooling. We have not checked on British or Australian schools in the Dubai area because our child is American. We certainly have no problem with sending him to a British or Aussie school, especially at his age where the differences in the various anglophonic curriculums are not profound, its just that we have no information on such programs. Perhaps, at the high school level we would actively avoid sending him to an anglophonic school with a non-North American curriculum if we could help it, but now it probably doesn't matter a whole lot.

In the KSA, he has attended schools based on both American and British curriculums. Personally, I was more impressed with the British school he attended, but my wife preferred the American school.

Now, we have to find him a school in the Sharjah-Dubai area. Thus far, I have looked into three schools:

1. American International School of Sharjah
2. Emirates International School
3. Dubai American Academy

Each one seems to have advantages as well as disadvantages.

The American International School of Sharjah will be close to where we will be living. The tuition would be fully covered by my employer. The school uses an American curriculum, at least nominally. These are the strong points as I see them. The weak points are that the majority of the students are NOT native English speakers and the fact the the school has been discussed in very unflattering terms by a former teacher in the JOB INFORMATION JOURNAL. I have concerns about sending my child to a school where his peers may not be able to function lingustically at the same level as a native speaking child. In such an atmosphere, the teacher would undoubtedly have to progress with material at a much slower pace to insure comprehension by the non-native speakers. Consequently, native speaking children would be held back, to a certain extent, by their classmates who would require more complete and repetitive explanations.

Emirates International School is located much farther from where we will live, thus a fairly long bus ride would be required. The school offers an American curriculum and seems to have a very vibrant mix of children from many nations, including English speaking countries. The school also provides a bus service to and from Sharjah for an additional fee. About 80-85% of the tuition and bus fees would be covered by my employer. However, I would have to dig into my own pocket for the difference. This would not pose a problem since the amount would not be very significant. The big downer is that the school mandates that all children including non-Arabic speaking kids must attend a one-hour-per-day lesson in Arabic. My son is bilingual in English and Farsi. His mother, a native Farsi speaker, is strongly against him learning Arabic. She doesn't mind him being instructed in any other langauge, but for cultural reasons which I can'tfully grasp, she is adamantly opposed to him being formally instructed in Arabic. Personally, I think Arabic would be useful for him. Then again, no one in my family was killed when the Iraqis invaded Iran in the 80s.

The Dubai American Academy appears to be a very fine school with excellent, well-qualified teachers and a wonderful curriculum. The school is quite far from Sharjah and doesn't have a bus service. Thus, I would have to arrange private transportation for the entire year. MOreover, the school's fees are such that my employer would only cover 50% of the tuition costs. Since I have only one child left at home I could swing the tuition, but it would require some degree of financial sacrifice on our part. I figure that when all is said and done, I could reasonable expect to be out of pocket to the tune of AED 25,000+ per annum. This is not an inconsequential sum for an English teacher, I'm sure most of you would agree. However, my wife will also be working....insha' we fully expect to have more than one salary coming in.

If you can offer any personal insights...good or bad....on any of these school, or if you can suggest good British or Australian schools for us to consider, I would be most appreciative. Those of you who are parents of school-age children know how difficult it is to find schools where our children both fit-in and get a quality education.

Let me thank you in advance for any info that you might be inclined to provide.
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Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 8:03 am    Post subject: Schools for your child in the Dubai/Sharjah area Reply with quote

This link is from Dubai Women's College and is quite useful.
Fees at the American School of Dubai are over 50,000.
So, your decision may be impacted by what your employer pays.
Also, seat availability is a big issue for people. Most schools have waiting lists, so the choice may appear broad, but seat availability is much smaller.
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Joined: 06 Apr 2003
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 5:54 pm    Post subject: English Medium Elementary Schools Reply with quote

First thing - where will you be living? Sharjah or Dubai?
Sharjah is near Dubai, but the commute in the morning and evening might take 1.5 hrs - no kidding - would you really want to put your young son thru that? The traffic at peak times into and out of Dubai can be horrific.
In addition to the places you have already found there is a school called the Sharjah English Speaking School - which does Brit curriculum.
Then, there's a Chouefait - but I'm not getting into that discussion.
Someone earlier asked about schools in Sharjah - can you see if you can find that thread - maybe whoever that was has some info to share.
Anyway, depends who you are working for - you might be able to live in Dubai and YOU do the commute to Sharjah which isn't too bad and your child goes on the school bus inside Dubai.
All the best...
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Joined: 06 Apr 2003
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 6:02 pm    Post subject: English medium elementary schools Reply with quote

Hello again,
Forgot to mention - as far as I know it is mandatory that children in private schools have 3 hrs (or something like that) of Arabic a week up to 9th grade. Some schools may have a waiver. My daughter did Arabic from grades 4 - 9 and knows practically nothing, so tell your wife not to worry too much! Oh - she also had to do something called Arabic Social Studies - not really sure what that was, but most kids aced it.
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