Global Indian International School Dubai opened pre-KG, KG1 and KG2 in September 2017 in Al Barsha South, prior to opening for its first full academic year in April 2018.
The Global Indian International School group (GIIS) has grown to comprise an international network of 23 campuses in seven countries since it was founded in 2002. Today it educates some 15,000 students. Its latest addition is the GIIS branch located in Al Barsha South, close to Hessa Street, having taken over the campus previously occupied by another Indian curriculum school.
GIIS Dubai began its operation in September 2017 as a mixed-gender school for Pre-KG, KG 1 and KG 2 aged children only. It offers the in-house “Montessori Plus” curriculum that aims to blend the best of teaching and learning practices within a Montessori (child-led) environment. As of July 2020, there are around 500 children at the school. A teacher plus teaching assistant is present in KG to Grade 2 classes. The total capacity of the school is 2,200. From April 2020, every year an additional grade will be added, starting with Grade 9, until the school reaches grade 12. Special classes may be organised on Saturdays for Grade 9 and above as and when needed.
Principal, Mr. Ramesh Mudgal’s message, outlines the Vision for the school and the emphasis that is placed on a well-rounded education.
“Creativity and innovation are integral to an effective 21st century education system, which is why our students are trained in problem solving, critical and inventive thinking right from their elementary classes. The students are encouraged to enquire, question and investigate and thus pave the way for creation of new knowledge through both within and beyond the classroom activities. At GIIS Dubai, we aspire to create students who would be Global Citizens committed to spirit of excellence in a caring and nurturing environment that encourages creativity and innovation through our 9 GEMSTM holistic education model. For us, every day is exciting as it promises something new to do, a little more to accomplish and continue to make a difference in the life of every child under our care”.
GIIS Dubai is authorised to offer dual curricula, a relatively new development for Indian curriculum schools globally. The Primary and Middle school sections (from Grade 1 to Grade 9) will offer a mixed curriculum, based on CBSE, but incorporating content and delivery based on the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the UK National curriculum, both of which encourage an enquiry-based approach usually taught around themes, rather than individual subjects. Grades 11 and 12 will offer either the CBSE XII standard exams or the IB Diploma Programme. A bridging programme will be introduced to enable students to follow the IB route. The choice of the IB Diploma emphasises the potential for Indian students to follow their university choices internationally, rather than necessarily returning to India for tertiary studies.
This dual curriculum option has been pioneered by a number of high profile UK curriculum schools in Dubai. The IB Diploma is increasingly viewed as the Gold Standard among the most prestigious Western universities. This makes GIIS the second Indian curriculum school to have chosen this option, following on from GEMS Dubai Modern Academy.
However, the other major difference between GIIS and other CBSE schools in Dubai appears to be the very much more relaxed environment and regime in which students study. In the KG grades, the school applies a blend of Montessori and the UK-based Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum which is largely play-based. Although there is a focus on writing (an absolute expectation of most Indian families), children are encouraged to participate in free-play, to develop their Hand-Eye coordination through use of the Montessori lab and the Kiddy Gym and to develop their literacy through a "learning through play" approach. KG children also have access to a Steam Lab, where they are able to carry out simple scientific experiments. GIIS feels that this approach provides children with the ability to learn in the way in which it suits them best individually and is motivating for both staff and students. The school also offers a Daycare facility for KG children who may have older siblings in school.
As the school develops, there will also be an increasing focus on the use of technology, with the inclusion of a Robotics/Maker-space (part of the core curriculum) and the use of a 3D studio showing content to reinforce the subjects learned in the classroom. Webinars (online seminars) with other GIIS campuses will take place and the school intends to take advantage of the technology available to students, including i-Pads and an AI room which is being developed with a leading Indian AI university. Each classroom is equipped with 180cm wide touch screen interactive boards, and the school offers Computer Science labs, the Tech Immersion & Maker Space lab and Science laboratories.
With technology being seen as one of the most important skill sets, GIIS offers a Microsoft IT Academy to give students the leading edge in technology learning. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education is carefully integrated throughout the GIIS curriculum with the goal of providing students with a deeper understanding and hands-on learning. GIIS has partnered with Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. to provide teachers and students with access to 45 volumes of the Britannica Series, along with 11 CDs and 34 e-books.
In addition to the strictly academic, a major focus of the GIIS schools is the Nine Gems™ educational framework, which is based on the importance of providing a rounded education to students. The 9 Gems are defined as Academic Excellence, Personality Development, Universal Values & Ethics, Sports Excellence, Creativity & Innovation, Community & Care, Visual & Performing Arts, Entrepreneurship & Leadership and Skill Development.
GIIS aims to ensure that these values and experiences are included throughout the curriculum and studies. Students are taught the importance of academic excellence while simultaneously learning universal values, ethics, discipline, creativity, and personality development. In Secondary and High school, the GIIS curricula prioritise academic achievement, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills, along with key competencies for vocational and career progression. Critical thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, problem solving, and conflict resolution are all part of the “big picture” of GIIS’s definition of a holistic education.
As part of the goal of creating well-rounded individuals, Extra-curricular activities are a key part of the Nine Gems programme. They are often sports-based, taking place outside of the classroom, with the aim of helping students develop their personalities and physical aptitude. Students who show particular talent in these extracurricular activities may be invited to participate in the Gold Squad Programme, which provides additional, intensive training under specialist coaches.
In addition, Co-curricular activities aim to take what students are learning in the classroom and build upon that through talent shows, performances, competitions, clubs and additional classroom work. Co-curricular activities, which tend to be more creative in nature, will include Contemporary Vocal and Instrumental music, Classical and Contemporary dances, Creative Arts – Drawing, Painting, Handicrafts and sculpture and Digital arts, as well as Event management and Movie Making. There is also a strong focus on the environment through the I-care programme which exposes students to Organic Gardening and Aquaponics.
As would be expected, the campus is well-equipped with state of the art infrastructure to facilitate academic and co-curricular activities, including spacious outdoor grounds for sports and extra-curricular activities, a multi-purpose auditorium, high-tech video conferencing facilities and a well-resourced library. The Library will offer 10,000+ titles and access to the internet with Mac computers. Less high- tech, but none-the-less important facilities, include a cafeteria serving multiple cuisines, a Music studio, a Dance studio, and a Multi-purpose auditorium with a 600-seating capacity. Sports activities are catered for through the provision of Badminton courts, Basketball courts, a Tennis court, Squash Courts, the Soccer ground, a Cricket net, Table tennis and a Swimming pool.
GIIS was due to have its first KHDA inspection in the 2019-20 academic year. However, this was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and closure of schools in March. The school will be subject to a Distance Learning Evaluation being carried out with all Dubai schools in April-May and results are expected to be published by the KHDA on completion.
GIIS is not new to the UAE, with an Abu Dhabi school having opened in 2017. It is probably the largest International group offering the Indian curriculum to have set up in the UAE and should, based on its history and experience, presumably be an attractive option for parents. Interestingly, however, the group was founded in Singapore, only subsequently expanding to India. It will be interesting to see whether Indian parents find this an attraction or a concern.
The annual fees for the Dubai campus start at AED 15,059 for pre-primary and rise to AED 27,765 for Grade 9. There are a number of additional annually recurring fees which will need to be added to the tuition, including books (AED 600), Uniform (AED 600) and an optional ICT resources fee (AED 600).
There is also a one-off Admission fee of AED 1,000 on acceptance. GIIS has identified that there is a gap in the market for a mid-range school in terms of fees and facilities. It will be interesting to see if parents are prepared to "trade up" to take advantage of this new offering.
Note, fees for the IB DP programme have yet to be revealed, but there is no doubt GIIS will be one of the most competitively priced IB DP schools in the UAE, a curriculum very much identified, currently, with the country's more premium priced institutions.
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