Dubai to Mandate Parent Rights, Responsibility Contracts

Lawmakers in Dubai hope that forcing schools and parents to sign a legally binding contract before children can enroll will cut down on the number of disputes over fees, vacation, refunds and attendance policies, reports Wafa Issa of The National. The contracts will force schools to put all their policies in writing and in exchange parents will have to turn over accurate information regarding their children's medical, psychological and prior academic records.

The contracts will also lay out a tuition payment schedule and will provide steps that both parties must take in order to resolve disagreements over any issues laid out in the contract. A pilot program where the contracts will be used is set to begin this fall at 6 private schools around Dubai. If the contracts prove successful, they will become mandatory at the rest of Dubai's 153 private schools that serve nearly a quarter million students.

Experts at Dubai's education regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, believe the new contracts will reduce the number of disputes between parents and schools.

"Through our work we realised that the reasons behind many of the disputes … were the same," said Amal Bel Hasa of the KHDA. "We also realised that schools which had clearly outlined contracts experienced fewer disputes with parents.
"By introducing this unified contract we are hoping to provide a better understanding for parents of their rights and duties and thus reduce disputes."

The schools remain free to decide their policies, but the contract is aimed at ensuring that both parties are clear about what those policies are.

The contracts currently in use at most schools don't go into details about school policies and parental responsibilities. This lack of clarity naturally leads to conflict between school administrators and parents – something that the new, more detailed agreements are designed to eliminate.

According to the KHDA, a single template will also make the agreements easier for parents to understand. Even families that switch schools will be familiar with the contract they will need to sign to enroll their children in a new institution.

The contract terms were designed according to international standards but take into account local requirements, she said, and KHDA consulted extensively with the schools and the parents.

The six schools taking part in the project are Dubai Modern Education School, Al Ittihad Private School Al Mamzar, Al Ittihad Private School Jumeirah, School of Modern Skills. Greenwood International School and American Academy in Al Mizhar.

The schools teach nearly 10,000 pupils, about 80 per cent of whom are Emirati.

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