Combating Covid-19: Will private schools in UAE offer discounts on term fees?  04/06/2020 15:00:00  2  Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi

With the remote learning continuing across all schools in the country till the end of the academic year, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has confirmed the readiness of private schools in the emirate to carry on with the distance learning programme to ensure continuity of education during this Covid-19 crisis.

The education regulators said private schools across the emirate have been working diligently on their distance learning plans. Most schools have systems in place to support students when they require assistance with their assigned learning tasks. "Schools are using different modes of delivery, which can range from offering distance learning fully online to providing students with printed work packages," said Adek.

"Many schools have e-learning or file-sharing/communication platforms - such as Class Dojo, MS Teams, Google Drive - to deliver lessons and assignments and create an engaging classroom experience at home. Some schools will also be using printed learning materials such as student handouts and practice sheets. All schools remain committed to ensuring the continuity of learning for all students."

Adek has also answered queries commonly asked by parents, including the tuition fees payment, how exams will be conducted and how the government is helping private schools during the current situation.

-Why should I pay outstanding fees when students are learning from home?

The implementation of distance learning was a necessity to ensure the continuity of learning while keeping students and their families safe from the spread of the coronavirus. Although distance learning has transferred education from physical classrooms to virtual learning platforms, schools and educators across Abu Dhabi are working full time to deliver daily lessons and will continue to provide distance learning during Term 3.

Paying school fees on time means that student learning will continue uninterrupted. It also means that teachers will continue to be paid and that schools will be able to offer the same facilities and services when they reopen.

-Will private schools offer discounts on term fees?

Offering reduced fees, refunds or credit is at the sole discretion of each school, and we have encouraged schools to consider which solutions are best suited to their needs while exploring ways of reducing costs that they can pass on as savings to parents. Regardless, school fees should be paid during the distance learning period to ensure your children receive their end-of-year certificates and graduate from this grade/year.

-Why should I pay for the next term if my child will not be sitting their external Board Exams?

We are still waiting for a decision from the examination boards as to exactly how they propose to assess evidence in order to give students grades. It is likely that any assessments being done by pupils whilst studying remotely will be allowed to count towards their final grade. This study is important for them to get the best-predicted grades in the absence of a formal exam. It is critical that pupils complete their course work especially if they are considering continuing taking that subject in the following year.

- Will there be a reduction in Board Examination fees?

Reductions in fees for Board exams are at the discretion of the Examination Boards, and we are yet to receive their decisions in this regard. Examination fees are usually charged at cost to parents so if they choose to apply discounts to the fees, these will be passed back to the parents by the schools. We urge all parents to keep in touch with their schools for latest updates and to ensure students are registered within the deadline. Parents are also encouraged to follow our social channels and this page for the latest updates.

-The government facilitated cash injection to help the economy, will similar support be given to the education sector?

To date, and with the support of our partners, we have provided 15,510 tablets, 7,000 SIM cards and 3,000 MIFI devices to schools in the low and very low fee categories. We have launched a knowledge-sharing platform with more than 1,000 teaching resources and have whitelisted 297 websites for your children. We have also provided trainings and access to platforms including Amazon Web Services, ALEF education, Renaissance, Pearson, myON and Mathletics. ADEK will continue to work closely with schools and parents to assist with solutions to challenges faced.

-What happens if parents don't pay outstanding tuition fees?

All parents are expected to pay their children's tuition fees as required by their schools. Parents who refuse to pay fees, will not be able to obtain their children's end-of-year certificates, which means that they will need to repeat the academic year. However, there are families who have been adversely affected and are unable to fulfil expected payments. Parents facing extenuating circumstances are advised to contact their school on support and guidance on next steps.

-Can schools introduce extra fees for access to online learning resources and apps for this term?

No. Schools are not allowed to include any additional fees.

-Can I transfer my child to a new school during this term if I am not satisfied with the distance learning model that is currently being provided?

No, a transfer is not permitted at this time. Schools are not currently able to assess new students, and are unable to offer places until the new academic year. Even under normal circumstances, student transfers at this stage would not be allowed. Parents are asked to work with their school to address any concerns they may have. Should you feel that your issue is still unresolved, please contact ADEK's Parent Hotline for further guidance.

-If my child's school has cashed my checks in full and decides to give a discount during this period, can I expect to receive a refund or credit for the next term?

It is important to consider that each school will have its own unique situation, therefore refunds or credit are at the sole discretion of the school.

-What if I have lost my job or received a salary cut and cannot afford to pay my children's fees?

We believe wholeheartedly in the basic right of every child to quality education, regardless of their circumstances. Parents facing extenuating circumstances are advised to contact their school on support and guidance on next steps.

-How have educators' roles changed now that children are learning from home?

Teachers have taken on added responsibilities and their role remains the same: Over 25,000 educators and teaching staff in Abu Dhabi are preparing daily lessons, delivering a comprehensive plan for distance learning, while working hard to continuously improve their methodology in order to enhance the educational experience for all students. We should also remember that many of them are parents as well, who are simultaneously educating both our children and their own.

-For schools who are not performing well in distance learning, what measures is the Adek taking to address this?

Adek has been closely monitoring the experience of both schools and parents through regular surveys and fully dedicated hotlines during this phase, to continually improve the delivery of distance learning. We continue to work closely with all stakeholders to address any shortcomings and maintain the calibre of education delivered. We urge everyone to remember that this is a new experience for all, and as such, we advocate for more understanding and patience as schools adjust and continue to improve on a new method of teaching.

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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