More than 500 students from the Emirates English Speaking School (EESS) in Dubai have transitioned into new schools across the emirate and Sharjah, ahead of the campus’ closure in March.
Parents were left shocked earlier this year when they were notified that the 30-year-old school would be closing its doors for good, due to “financial constraints”. But months on, some parents said the school had been helping them move students into their new campuses.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Anil Kumar, whose daughter requires special education, has finally found a place at Pace International School in Sharjah.
“We looked around immediately after we heard the news of the school’s closure because we knew it would be difficult to place my daughter somewhere else because of her needs.”
At first, the family came up short, with Kumar saying that schools were “hesitant” to take her on.
More than three months later, their luck has changed and his daughter in fifth grade is set to start attending her new school in March 2019.
“The fees are actually less. We visited the school and are very happy with the help we have received for the full transition. We’re relieved now that we have found a place for her.” Kumar will be paying about Dh740 per month for his daughter in Grade 6.
Muhsin Kattayat, principal at Pace International School Sharjah (part of Pace Group, which has five schools in the UAE) told Khaleej Times that it has been liaising with EESS parents since the closure announcement.
“The principal of the EESS, Mr Tabrez, mentioned the closure of his school early next year, and he was worried about the students and teachers. I discussed this matter with my chairman, Dr.PA Ibrahim Haji after which I had a meeting with Mr Tabrez. After visiting our facilities, he invited me to their parents’ meeting where we held a question-and-answer session. I invited all the parents to pay a visit to our school.”
So far, more than 200 parents have visited the campus and “more than 100 students have already taken admission”.
“Many enquiries are coming in, too. We have good facilities and an affordable fee structure, which is rare in Dubai. This is why parents started going to our school in Sharjah. To offer a transport facility for them was tough, but thinking on the side of parents, we are pleased to offer transport to all the EESS students transitioning from the school.”
Additionally, Kattayat said it would be offering placements for the teachers, too, “as per the availability”.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said his nine-year-old son had already moved to Pace International School.
“The decision to move him to a Sharjah school was tough, as travel could become an issue, but it is really the best school we could find at a price point similar to the EESS. The fact that many other parents have moved their kids there, too, is encouraging.”
A number of Gems schools, including Gems Heritage School; Gems Our Own Private High School, Sharjah; Gems Millennium School, Sharjah; and Gems New Millennium School, have also been liaising with parents following the closure announcement.
“Gems Education has assisted several families from the EESS to secure places for their children in (our) schools. We provide many options for parents, including multi-curricula and multi-price points. Our priority is to ensure that we make the transition as seamless as possible,” a Gems Education spokesperson told Khaleej Times.
In June this year, the EESS student count was 1,550, but speaking to a teacher this month, it is now less than 1,000.