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Thu 4 Jun 2020 05:03 PM

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UAE private school operators seek September reopenings

Education Business Group is calling on government authorities to open up schools after summer break

UAE private school operators seek September reopenings

Alan Williamson, CEO, Taaleem, said it is imperative that schools open not only from an academic perspective but also from a social perceptive.

Leading educators across the country have appealed to the UAE Government for support to ensure the reopening of private schools in September.

At a virtual press briefing hosted by the Education Business Group, members stressed how important it was from an economic point of view for schools to return but, more importantly, for the all-round well-being and development of students.

Schools across the country have been closed, with distance learning employed, since before the spring break as part of lockdown measures implemented by authorities to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Group members have communicated formally to the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Education, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and different regulatory authorities across the United Arab Emirates.

Alan Williamson, CEO, Taaleem, said: "It is imperative that schools open not only from an academic perspective but also from a social perceptive. The education sector has proved its ability to make rapid decisions; we saw that when we transformed in a week to an eLearning environment; we are ready again to transform for the new norm.

“No matter how fantastic our efforts were in remote learning, our students are missing their science labs, sports fields, arts studios… and if the UAE has to meet the goals of its national agenda, we need to open the schools to ensure that students do not miss out on their all-round development.”

A number of schools across the country offered discounts of up to 20 percent on term three fees, while others, including education giant GEMS, implemented discounts in a more means-tested fashion.

Ajay Mankani, co-founder Fortes Holding and Fortes Education, said:  “We believe that by opening schools in September, the country can set a benchmark that other emerging markets can emulate to deliver high quality private education.”

Other steps that the group recommended to help address current challenges was the creation of an education sector liquidity fund to provide non-collateral interest-free loans or grants to cover the expected loss of fee revenue collection, as well as rental breaks from March to August 2020, and the option to place unutilised staff on unpaid leave until the reopening of schools.

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