Clearly, many parents have been willing to see their children continue to be educated at home, rather than risk them attending school in person.
It will be interesting to see whether this balance is maintained through the remainder of the academic year, given the recent news about potential vaccines against Covid 19, which will hopefully permit parents to regain confidence is the safety of children attending school.
One key fact that should encourage parents’ confidence is the information that the KHDA team, in September and October, made 1,148 surprise visits to ensure that private schools were adhering to Dubai Government rules for health & safety at school. The inspection team found that 88% of schools were fully compliant in adhering to the regulations.
Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of KHDA, said:
“Dubai’s school sector faced unprecedented circumstances this year. Despite setbacks, the emirate’s school sector has not only proven its ability to bounce back from challenges, but also recovered stronger and better. New schools continue to open in Dubai, new families continue to move to Dubai, and our educational community continues to deliver a high quality of education.
“We’re grateful to the teachers and school leaders who have been so devoted to their students and their work; to the parents who have placed their trust in Dubai and our schools; and to the students who have shown such courage and optimism throughout this period. Our community will continue to work together in the weeks and months ahead to build a more resilient, future-focused private school sector.”
Despite the unique circumstances, six new schools also took their courage in their hands to open in the current academic year despite the challenges of the on-line learning situation. These include Bright Learners School, Ghaf Primary School, Pearl Wisdom School, The Chinese School Dubai and Vernus International School.
These are the latest schools to be added to the 30 new private schools that opened in the emirate in the three academic years up to 2019-2020 and brings the current total to 210. Four schools merged or closed during the same period.
There was an increase of 14% in enrolments over the three year period, but, as had been widely expected, in the face of Covid 19 and its economic impact, private school enrolment for students in grades 1 to 12 (Year 2 to Year 13) has seen a decrease of 1.7% in this academic year compared with last year. (Enrolments for KG and FS/Year 1 are excluded from these statistics as children are not legally required to attend school for these grades/year groups).
What is not clear, is how many students are studying at home, having been withdrawn from school or having enrolled with fully on-line schools.
Overall statistics show that there are now 279,191 students in total registered in Dubai’s schools, of whom 32,398 are Emirati. 106,773 students attend UK curriculum schools, whilst 73,990 study at Indian curriculum schools. Boys slightly outnumber girls at 143,670:135,521.
Students are taught by 20,445 teachers with 5,965 Indian nationals being the largest group, followed by teachers from the UK (some 3,620). Female teachers outnumber male teachers by a factor of 4:1.
The report also found that the average cost of annual tuition fees AED 29,953, although half of students’ families pay under AED 20,000.
Two further reports will be issued in the Winter and Spring terms.