Sharjah Private Education Authority has begun conducting a comprehensive inspection of private schools across the emirate to ensure they are fully prepared for the new academic year.
Inspections over the next three weeks will assess all 127 private schools in Sharjah, which this year will collectively educate 181,175 pupils, including 21,995 Emiratis.
The checks are part of the education regulator's start-of-school-year assessments to ensure schools provide a sustainable and high-quality educational environment for pupils.
They are separate from SPEA's Itqan assessment programme, which evaluates schools' performance annually.
SPEA inspectors started their visits on Monday morning at Sama American Private School in the Al Azra area. A team from SPEA’s senior administration also visited the school.
“We are visiting both schools being inspected today by our teams just to wish our pupils a happy start to their new academic year,” Ali Al Hosani, director of SPEA, told The National.
Nadia Al Hosani, manager of the Inspection and Compliance Department at SPEA, told The National these inspections focus on various aspects.
“We assess the facilities on multiple fronts, including safety, ventilation, hygiene, temperatures in classrooms, and even the shade in the schoolyard,” she said.
SPEA's review of each school ensures that every child enjoys a healthy and safe learning environment, she said.
“The two schools we inspected on Monday were fully co-operative and ready to welcome pupils back to the classrooms,” Ms Al Hosani said.
SPEA’s inspection also monitors the progress of the 'Your Children Are Safe' initiative.
Aimed at boosting safety, the programme enables parents to track their children’s journeys to and from school through cameras inside school buses.
New school year preparations
Hassan Sabbah, principal of Sama American Private School, said they generally begin preparing for the new academic year between January and February.
This is followed by laying out a plan with a specific timetable to ensure everything is ready by mid-August before pupils return.
“In this first phase, it's about navigating schools needs,” he told The National.
“Our needs focused on opening new classrooms to accommodate the increase in the school’s pupil population, hiring new qualified staff members and on renovations.
“We replaced our entire surveillance system of 386 cameras and installed the first batch of interactive laser smart boards,” he said.
The inspections are also designed to be aligned with the authority's educational evaluation programme, ‘Itqan’, which focuses on developmental and educational improvements.
“As educators, it's our responsibility to continually adapt and evolve, ensuring our facilities and educational delivery mechanisms are top-notch,” said Mr Sabbah.
“The inspections by SPEA help us align our efforts with broader educational goals.”
In the Itqan programme, 110 out of 127 private schools in the emirate were evaluated and showed that all but three schools provided at least “acceptable” levels of education.
The results indicated a significant improvement of 68 per cent in school performance compared to previous evaluations in 2018 and 2019.
SPEA approved a five per cent increase in school fees for this school year in “response to the private sector's needs to enhance resources and work requirements”.
Schools with a rating below 'acceptable' are not eligible to increase tuition fees, the education regulator said in March.