New school brings relief to displaced Filipino students

New school brings relief to displaced Filipino students

Former students of closed villa school in Capital get preference


Olivia Olarte-Ulherr

Published: Wed 20 Aug 2014, 12:05 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:48 PM

Students displaced from the now closed Philippine National School (PNS) have started registration with The Philippine School Abu Dhabi.

Elinor Monique Sevilla explains the registration process at The Philippine School in Abu Dhabi. — KT photo by Shoaib Anwer

Located in Baniyas East, the new school — a branch of The Philippine School (TPS) Dubai — operates from a government school building provided by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec). It has a capacity to accommodate up to 800 students.

According to Letty Maniaul, managing director of TPS, the school opened in Abu Dhabi to bring the best education for the Filipino community. “There is a demand for our services here,” she said.

PNS was among the last villa schools closed down by the Adec last academic year (July 2014) for operating from residential premises. The crackdown on villa schools was enforced by the council in 2010 for safety and security reasons.

According to parents of PNS students, they received text messages from the Adec informing them of the new school.

“We received the text message a few days after we came back from our vacation in the Philippines on June 26. We were told formally that PNS has closed down and that we can enrol in this new school,” said Vivian Rull, a mother of an incoming Grade 5 student. She noted that the text also included the Dh3,200 fee they have to pay for tuition.

Elinor Monique Sevilla, a department head at TPS Dubai who oversees the registration at the Baniyas school, said that the 50 per cent discount was being given upon presentation of the eSIS (Enterprise Student Information System) number.

“We were informed that priority be given to PNS students because they were displaced and we were told to expect 500 initial enrolees,” Sevilla said.

Registration started on August 3 “right after we got the licence from Adec”, said Maniaul. On the first day, 187 students registered. As of midday on Monday, TPS already has 753 students in its rolls and seats in two grades — KG2 and Grade 9 — were already filled. TPS offers classes for KG1 to Grade 10 and the classes are starting on September 1.

According to Sevilla, majority (60 per cent) of those who registered are from PNS, the rest are students from other schools in the emirate, Dubai and the Philippines.

Joshua Francisco, a former PNS student, was excited about his new school. “I like it here; it is bigger than my previous school. I intend not to miss the opening day this time,” said the incoming Grade 7 pupil.

His father, Bong Francisco, commended the Adec’s support to parents by giving discount for his son’s tuition fee.

Stephanie Christine Rull, another student from PNS, said she is looking forward to meeting her old friends. “Many of my friends already went home, I’m glad I still have others who stayed.”

Her mum, Vivian Rull’s only concern was the distance of the new school from town. However, she was glad that Stephanie won’t have to stop for another year.

“The other school led us on. The (management) told us not to worry and gave us hope that PNS will still continue. If we got the text from Adec while we were still in the Philippines, I would not have brought her back here and instead enrolled her there,” she said.

Milanie Manalo’s daughter has been on a waiting list in another Philippine-curriculum school. When she heard about TPS, she immediately went to register her who was transferred here from Manila.

“It’s a relief to finally get her enrolled instead of waiting without certainty from the other school to open up a space. She is looking forward to starting school here already,” she said. The distance for her is not an issue as there will be a school bus service.

Since the closure of villa schools, the Adec has provided support by allocating land at low-cost rent for investors to build high-quality purpose-built facility that offers good educational standard for the low-income community. The council has also provided government school buildings for their temporary use until they are ready to relocate. Some villa school operators, however, failed to fulfil their legal commitments to develop purpose-built schools and have to be closed down by the Adec.

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