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Free UAE schooling for Covid-hit students: How it works

Staff Reporter/Abu Dhabi
Filed on April 7, 2021
Alamy image used for illustrative purposes

It caters to students in Grades 5 to 11.

Over 500 expat students — who have had to leave private schools because of financial woes — are currently studying for free in Abu Dhabi’s first Virtual Charter School. On Wednesday, education authorities in the Capital explained how the programme works.

“The Virtual Charter School is open to students of all nationalities whose families have been financially impacted by Covid-19. This not-for-profit public-private partnership model offers alternative education delivery which redresses learning loss in a pandemic and provides an invaluable bridge for students to continue their education,” said Sara Musallam, chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek).

Offering a hybrid learning experience, the Virtual Charter School was launched in October 2020 for pupils who have had to drop out of school because their parents could no longer afford the fees. Currently, it follows the Ministry of Education (MoE) private school curriculum with potential expansion plans for wider curriculum diversity. It caters to students in Grades 5 to 11.

Besides admissions being free of charge, the school also supplies loaned digital devices to the students, the authority said in a statement.

Pupils who are enrolled in the charter school are permitted to transfer to alternative private schools in accordance with Adek rules and policies. However, their parents must pledge to pay all outstanding amounts to their children’s previous school and settle arrears prior to re-enrolling children in the private school system, the authority explained.

Abu Dhabi’s new Virtual Charter School is operated by Edurizon Education Services, a subsidiary of AlephYa Education, the pan-regional education investment company focused on delivering affordable and high-quality education across the GCC.

Oversight, management and regulatory guidance is delivered by Adek’s Education Partnerships Sector, which is also responsible for the emirate’s successful charter school model — the third educational model anchored on students’ welfare.

Saeed Al Hajeri, Edurizon Board member, hailed the Virtual Charter School as a sterling example of public-private sector collaboration.

“We know the critical importance of a quality education and we were immediately on board to support an initiative which solves a real education need. The Virtual Charter School model leverages the power of Adek, which will monitor the project’s implementation and operation, and Edurizon, which will operate and manage the school and the learning services,” said Al Hajeri.

“There is the potential to expand the Virtual Charter School model to include wider curriculum diversity based on identified needs and we encourage more private sector companies to utilise their resources and expertise to service communities who directly benefit from non-profit solutions.”

This inclusive approach reflects Adek’s commitment to ensuring quality education for all, Musallam said. “It is in line with our strategic priority of building an attractive education ecosystem which reinforces Abu Dhabi’s position as a pioneering regional and international education hub....The school is also aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

reporters@khaleejtimes.com





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