KHDA outlines new policy for schools in Dubai

Sarwat Nasir /Dubai
Filed on January 26, 2020 | Last updated on January 26, 2020 at 05.34 pm
KHDA, outlines, legal responsibilities, schools, new policy, Knowledge of Human and Development Authority

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Dubai parents with children of determination have previously hailed the KHDA's decision to make the education system inclusive.

Dubai private schools can no longer charge additional fees to students of determination who require extra services without approvals from the Knowledge of Human and Development Authority (KHDA).

The new policy is one among many that have been revealed in the KHDA's 'Directive and Guidelines for Inclusive Education' guide, which lists the legal responsibilities schools have over the rights of special education needs and disabilities (SEND) students.

In 2017, the KHDA had launched a roadmap to ensure all private schools in Dubai become 100 per cent inclusive. This meant that schools could no longer refuse admissions to students of determination, ensuring school infrastructure for these students are in place, among other requirements.

In the past, several parents came forward with complaints about schools that refused admissions to their children of determination. Many parents also continue to pay outrageous amounts of fees, including tuition and costs of shadow teachers.

"All private schools operating within Dubai must ensure that. any charging of additional fees, to fund educational provision for students of determination, can only take place through registering an individualised service agreement with the KHDA," the guidebook read.

"The individualised service agreement, and the associated fee to parents, can only be applied when the required provision is not available through the standard school service for students of determination."

Schools must to provide parents and the KHDA with clear documents that the individualised service is required and is a necessary component of the student's educational provision. Schools can submit this indivdualised service agreement to the KHDA via an online form.

When any school denies a student of determination admission, the reason must be clearly shared with the KHDA by completing the authority's non-admission notification procedure.

The KHDA has also clarified that medical assessment of a medical diagnosis is not a condition for a student's participation in the entry assessment process or for enrollment into the school.

"When a school denies a student of determination enrollment or re-enrollment, the KHDA's non-admission notification procedure is followed. This must take place whether the student is identified as a student of determination prior to the application or is identified as a result of the entry assessment procedure," the report said.

"The information provided in the non-admission notification form will be monitored and evaluated by KHDA. This may lead to further review and action in accordance with The Executive Council Resolution No. (2) of 2017 Regulating Private Schools in the Emirate of Dubai."

Parents hail inclusive decision

Dubai parents with children of determination have previously hailed the KHDA's decision to make the education system inclusive.

American expat parent April McCabe had said schools "would not even consider meeting" her son after they learned he has non-verbal autism. "We had no choice but to put him in a special needs school where a curriculum wasn't even offered. We taught him math, reading and writing at home in the afternoon," McCabe said, who pays Dh80,000 annually for her child.

"The KHDA also need to make special needs schools follow a curriculum and hold these schools accountable. Our kids need the opportunity to reach their full potential and to contribute to society."

Another parent, Abeer Ismail, had said her son with Down syndrome was refused admission into more than 10 private schools, as they either had a lack of specialised teachers or the parents of other children were objecting to his presence.

"I was told (by schools) to put him in a centre for special needs as it will benefit him more," she said. "So, I enrolled him in one finally. It really hurts when your child is rejected because of a condition no one has control over, and that he isn't given his full rights in basic rights of life. I cried every time I walked out of a school that rejected him. In my opinion, the schools aren't ready and feared to take full responsibility of these children."

The KHDA said that since the framework to make schools fully inclusive was launched and through the inspection process, "many more" students of determination are being enrolled within private schools, there's been a "significant increase" in the quality of education provided to these students. The KHDA also acknowledged that "more needs to be done" to achieve educational excellence for all.

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