Want to homeschool your child in the UAE? Read this

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Dubai: Parents planning to homeschool their children in the UAE have multiple accredited options, a webinar organised by Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) explained on Saturday.

Homeschooling is not prohibited in the UAE but not officially recognised either. However, there are a few accredited pathways for students, the webinar discussed.

The webinar was led by Muna Ajadi, who heads Tawakkul Educational Consultancy, and held in collaboration with Targheeb Educational Consultancy Services. The virtual event was held live on PAD’s Facebook page.

What are the options?

Ajadi said there are three options in the UAE for accredited homeschooling. The first one she listed was the ‘Rahhal’ programme recognised by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority. Students first have to register in one of the 20 participating Dubai private schools. Parents and the school then sign a contract about how much time the student will homeschool instead of attending regular classes and agree on the fees.

Muna Ajadi of Tawakkul Educational Consultancy addresses the webinar.
Image Credit: Screengrab

“At the end of the school year, you should be able to come out with a school certificate that states that your child was educated under this school. So you will have an accredited school certificate at the end of the year for that grade,” Ajadi said.

Ministry programme

Second on her list was the homeschooling programme under the Ministry of Education. This is open for grade seven students (who are at least 14 years old) to grade 12 in public schools, she Ajadi said. Students do not have to attend regular classes and the education zone of their emirate of residence provides them the books. The coursework is set by the ministry and the students self-learn or choose a private tutor. The students take the ministry’s exams in the end of the term to earn their certificate.

Coping in pandemic
It is not known exactly how many children in the UAE are homeschooling, but the number is believed to be in the thousands. One group, Dubai and Northern Emirates Homeschool Association, alone has over 6,000 members.
Ajadi said school fees have become “unbearable” for some parents “due to the COVID-19 situation”. In Dubai, school fees have not been allowed to rise for two years, with many schools reducing fees or offering discounts. Word of caution

“There are certain requirements that the ministry asks of you before they will accept your child into the programme. So you will need to contact them directly to see whether they will accept your family under your current circumstances. However, if you are accepted onto this programme, successful completion of this type of homeschool education in the UAE is equivalent to graduation from any regular public high school in the UAE,” Ajadi said.

Board exams

The third option, she added, is to homeschool “all the way through” and sit accredited international board exams such as the IGCSEs, normally taken by Year 11 students, through the British Council. Ajadi said as long as homeschoolers have studied the course, they can sit the exams no matter if they are much younger. They don’t have to be wait to be a certain age or grade level; however, they should be at least 10 years old, she added.

Word of caution
Last June, UAE education authorities cautioned parents against enrolling their children in distance learning from schools outside the UAE that are not recognised.
The advisory followed reports at the time that some UAE-based parents were considering the move after being approached on social media by such schools offering annual fees less than Dh5,000. Authorities in the UAE had warned against choosing unaccredited operators abroad, saying their certificates will not be accepted in the emirates.

“So if your children take their exams at the British Council, they will get certified certificates from there. And they can go on to applying to approved colleges and universities in the UAE. And also these certificates are accepted internationally,” Ajadi said.

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