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Sun 27 Dec 2009 10:48 AM

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27,000 children missing daytime education - paper

One in seven children go to school in evening as parents cannot afford fees.

Some 27,000 children are being educated at evening or charity schools in the UAE as parents cannot afford costly private school fees, it has been reported.

According to a report in the National on Saturday, one in seven children attend afternoon or evening classes, the latest figures from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) reveal.

A further 1,300 children are on waiting lists to get into classes at charity schools, which offer classes for those who cannot afford daytime private education.

Charity schools charge about AED4,000 ($1,100) a year in fees – a much cheaper option compared to private schools which charge several times that amount.

“The numbers have increased because of the economic state of the parents,” said Mohammed Robin Edris, the general director of National Charity Schools (NCS), told the paper. “Many of them have decreased salaries, and many lost their jobs.”

He told the paper at least 800 new children enrolled in the NCS’ three Arabic-language schools in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman at the start of the new academic year.

“We need another school in Sharjah,” Edris told the paper. “I have about 40 buses carrying students from Dubai to Sharjah and Ajman.”

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Jim Morisson 10 years ago

Dear UAE, As much as you adore the idea of capitalism and private enterprise, please note that there are some basic citizen (or resident in your case) needs, such as education and healthcare, that if privatized would prove to be less efficient than the public sector. The high value placed on these services by citizens would allow private enterprises to charge high fees for unnecessary services. Please study the per capita spending of United States on health care in comparison to the rest of the world, and also note the quality of the service provided and perhaps you will realize the limits of capitalism. Dear UAE, invest one thousandth of ADIA's portfolio into your residents education and perhaps in 20 years, you would not need to rely on selfish and expensive foreign experts for your development and operation.

Suhail 10 years ago

Well i just don't understand y do we have to make Education expensive and mobile phone cheaper??? No more comments!!!

AliAsgar Dohadwala 10 years ago

A country like UAE has more towers, more infrastructure, more money to capitalise projects, more complexes, more world issue relates summits, more of everything and still they need to allow institutes to make MORE MONEY out of education, health care and basic needs of average Human Requirements. Parting with money is more priority than parting with knowledge here in these times.

Elizabeth 10 years ago

Because Education is also turning out to be a Commercial activity today quite similar to the process of sale of a mobile.theWe even have very less teachers these days who really have the passion to teach childern & groom values in them. Our children are our future then why make education so expensive which should be a dutiful contribution from us to them.

Expat 10 years ago

Some of the successful businessmen have turned schooling into a cut throat business in UAE and many parts of the world. Atleast in UAE, the fees needs to come down as there are more people leaving due to losing their family income and the rents coming down. Greed is what drives such businessmen and they have turned education from service sector to the most commercially viable business of modern times.. Govt needs to interfere and audit these groups and also fix a ceiling on the fees they charge based on each schools facilties.. Only Govt can help reduce the commercialisation of schooling business and make it more affordable for all in UAE..

Jebel Ali Baba 10 years ago

Every private school in the UAE should be forced to provide a certain percentage of free places for children whose parents cannot efford proper school education. And the number of these sholarships should be so high to cover all children in the UAE.

Gloria 10 years ago

Like the right to breath air, education should be the right of every citizen, not a privilege for the rich. There should be a waiving of fees for those who cannot afford them, but it should be mandatory for all children to attend schooling between the ages of 6 to 17 years. This would also include students with special needs - regardless of the severity of the disability. Despite the fact that people seem to equate physical challenges with mental capacity; and mental challenges with a total lack of functional ability these students can be educated if not in academic abilities, certainly in social abilities which are so important for aceptance into society as a whole. There should be a portion of the budget set aside for an education "kitty" for those who are unable to pay. Those on social welfare benefits should automatically have the fees waived but would have to produce their social welfare registration number, and those whose income was below a certain benchmark could also be on the qualifying list of people who would benefit from the "kitty funding"

kingkaiser 10 years ago

Gloria, Emiratis have amongst the best education benefits globally - Their college education is fully subsidized (to my knowledge, regardless of means and regardless of institution), along with room, books, flights back home during breaks, and a monthly $1,000 stipend. I.e.: an Emirati kid can go to an Ivy League school without paying a penny, and will actually earn $12,000 a year for doing so. Sweet deal if you ask me... I think the 27,000 mentioned above are expatriate children, with families of limited means. The charity schools are undoubtedly doing a service, but i believe that for-profit schools should be required to allow a certain percentage of students of below-average means to attend. If the kids are competent, the school should provide subsidies / scholarships provided that the school can afford to do so - perhaps this comes in the means of a small surcharge levied to all parents of school-going children (a tiny 1-2 percentage of tuition, not a flat fee so as to not penalize poorer families to a higher relative degree). Just a thought...

Rakesh Singh 10 years ago

Education has to be put in in the topmost agenda and initiative from the corporate houses in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility has to be implemented strongly. When it comes to education this should not be considered as liberal issue..It is a great and alarming concern and some strong bold step has to be taken and awareness programme and government initiative can only resolve in reducing the huge numbers...It's everybody concern and two minds is better than one.

Brit happy to be here 10 years ago

@kingskaiser - not so - national children have to apply for their places - there are not enough government slots, and if they choose to go to a 'private' university, it has to be paid by them. Students can apply for grants/scholarships through a number of organisations, but again the spaces are limited. As for studying overseas, a number of those programmes have now ceased, or the students have been returned here to the UAE for studies. When we refer to nationals, we tend to forget that they have their own 'clique' system in place, which favours the few. If you are a child born of a national mother and a father of another nationality, you are not treated the same - sad but true. I know loads of kids who want a place at university, because they realise that this is their only way to better themselves and ensure that they can support their families, however, due to financial constraints this is not possible - you try being one of 25 kids, a girl, and asking your parents to pay for a university place - it ain't likely to happen. @Rakesh - you are right, perhaps companies should be asked to contribute one college place per year to students - irrespective of nationality - students don't stay in school for ever, so the cost would even out over time - seeing as companies aren't taxed as heavily here, they could consider this option, as a way of giving back to the community - it wouldn't cost them much, they could determine the degree course to support, and that way hopefully help to develop students that are aligned with their area of business - grow the people you need, rather than importing them from overseas. Let's keep it simple. Multinationals need to do more to support this market - no wonder this region touted as the most profitable - they make their largest margins here.