Dubai, UAE: The future of the only Pakistani community school in Dubai and its 1,500 pupils is under threat after the emirate’s education regulator warned staff to resolve its problems or face closure.
Dr Muhammad Haris Shah, who is on the school’s board of directors as one of its sponsors, said: “KHDA is worried about our school performance and informed me that any school in Dubai that fails to achieve the goals of Agenda 2021 will ultimately be going towards a closing position.”
According to the KHDA report, the Al Nahda school needs a serious overhaul in teaching methods to improve education standards.
“The school does not meet the registration requirements for the National Agenda Parameter … the school does not align its curriculum to include an enquiry approach to learning. It does not consistently offer opportunities for problem solving, independent research, critical thinking or higher order questioning. Most teaching, across all subjects and phases, does not meet the learning needs of all groups of students,” the report said.
In 2014, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched the UAE National Agenda 2021, with education being a prime focus. The National Agenda includes two major objectives developed with the intention of placing the UAE among the most successful countries that provide world-class education.
On Tuesday The National reported how schools across the country are struggling to survive as operating costs rise, profits drop and global competition for the best teachers becomes more intense.
By 2021, it is expected that the UAE will feature in the top 20 countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test and in the top 15 countries in the Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies (Timss) test. As a result, in 2015, KHDA launched the National Agenda Parameter, which is a method for measuring and monitoring schools’ progress towards achieving their individual National Agenda.
Dr Shah admitted that the school is facing major challenges, especially in providing quality education. “We are going to change our school leadership, who have been unable to deliver such goals. We are going to replace unqualified teachers with qualified ones. However, for all this, we need money, which we don’t have. Whatever current resources we have we are using to improve the safety and security of the school, safety and security of our schoolkids on our school transport,” he said.
According to Dr Shah there are two major issues for the school – too much involvement in its affairs by the Pakistani consulate and a lack of financial resources.
“After a 2006 federal law in which missions have been prohibited to be involved in community school affairs, the Pakistani consulate involvement gradually decreased in day-to-day management. However, the financial crunch continues to haunt the school’s progress,” he said.
Aside from hiring good quality staff, the school urgently requires sports facilities, a hall and extra classrooms, as well as fees paid for those children whose families cannot afford to pay them, he said.
“At the moment, the outstanding due towards students is Dh955,262, which includes both fee defaulters who have left the school and those who are attending the school but are not paying fees. The school fee ranges from between Dh250 to Dh400 per month, which is the lowest in Dubai.”
He said the KHDA has always been supporting and guiding the school to improve but, ultimately, the Pakistani community has to come together to rescue its only community school in the country.
“This schools is meant for the Pakistani community’s children and it the community’s responsibility to come forward and take the responsibility. We have reached a dead-end. It’s a now or never situation,” Dr Shah said.
© The NationalFeb 2017