UAE education: How cool is homeschool?

With rising school fees and an ever-growing waiting list, access to good private schools in Dubai is turning out to be a challenge for some Dubai expats, leaving a section of parents to home tutor their children instead.

Apart from being cost-effective, it also allows parents to play an active role in grooming their children, permitting them to learn at their own pace. While the smart ones can jump grades, weaker students can take their time to grasp the subject.

It’s also the flexibility that appeals to most parents. “I enjoy the fact that I can incorporate fun with learning. There’s no school run in the morning, just easy, fun ways to teach my child,” claims Sherlyn, who home-tutors her six-year-old.

Apart from the obvious downside – lack of age-appropriate social interaction – the absence of any clear legislation in the UAE makes the decision to homeschool equally tough for expats in Dubai.

It is this need for clarity that could possibly impact the reintroduction of such children back into the schooling system.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, for one, is yet to put any homeschooling regulation in place.

“KHDA is yet to include this type of education in its remit, the regulations for homeschooling are not yet in place,” confirmed Mohammed Darwish, chief of Regulations and Compliance.

That said, expats in the UAE who have opted for homeschooling highlight the best process available in the country. Many emirates have formed their own exclusive clubs with Abu Dhabi Homeschoolers Association and Northern Emirates Homeschoolers association, which are growing in numbers.

Elaborating on how it works in Dubai, an educator explains that the K12 centre in Knowledge Village is where you can access accredited home-learning.

It is registered with the Dubai education regulatory authority and they offer primary and high school levels, guiding parents and providing them with adequate material.

Children, aged five, are enrolled in kindergarten, and are automatically registered with the KHDA, confirms a staff at K12.

This would effectively mean that if the parent wishes to enroll the child back into a private school, they can do so.

According to a top official at Taalem, the transfer from homeschooling to a private school in Dubai is possible. “You have to go through an organisation (K12) so when you decide that you want to join in the mainstream system then you can actually get a transfer certificate. That is an essential.”

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)

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