ABU DHABI // Enrolling children in public schools will take no longer than five minutes with a new streamlined registration system that begins next week.
Instead of producing up to eight documents, all of which had to be scanned, parents of children in kindergarten to Grade 5 need only the child’s Emirates ID card and proof of residence. In higher grades, the child’s last report card is also required.
The new process applies to all 262 state schools in Abu Dhabi. “This will minimise the registration and data-entry time for the schools and the number of documents required to verify the personal student information,” said Walid Nsouli, senior technology adviser at Adec, the Abu Dhabi Education Council.
“It is estimated that registering the new student using the card will take between three and five minutes. The old process used to take between 28 and 32 minutes.”
The schools have been equipped with portable card readers from the Emirates Identity Authority that can be plugged into any computer and transfer the child’s personal information into the school system in minutes.
“We are capturing 17 data fields from the card into our student information system,” Mr Nsouli said.
“So imagine the amount of time we are saving the schools rather than typing all of this data. If they use the Emirates ID card correctly they won’t need to scan any documents.
“The ID card is required for any transaction with the Government of Abu Dhabi, so everyone should have one. This is why we are publicising this to the parents, especially for the national students.”
Registration for new Emirati pupils is between February 23 and March 20, and for expatriates from March 16 to 20.
“We want parents to come and register as early as possible because it’s first in, first serviced,” Mr Nsouli said.
“If they miss the registration deadline it will be extremely difficult for Adec to plan for the next year. Missing the deadline will cause a lot of problems to the parents.”
Parents who are unable to find a place for their children at the school of their choice are now required to go to Adec's website and register for the waiting list.
“We have introduced a new online application for parents to register and inform Adec about their interest in what school they want to go, depending on where they live,” said Mr Nsouli.
“First they need to go to the school and register using the card, if there is a place. If there is no place, what they need to do is go and register online for the waiting list.”
Mr Nsouli said that on average there were usually “a few hundred” pupils, mostly in the kindergarten years, who were placed on a waiting list before the start of the school year.
Registration for state schools is free for Emiratis. Expatriate pupils must be able to speak and write in Arabic and have an average academic score of 90 per cent. There is an annual fee of Dh6,000.
Up to 20 per cent of the 126,000 pupils in government schools in Abu Dhabi are expatriates.
The age at which children start school has changed for the next academic year. KG1 pupils must be 4, KG2 pupils must be 5 by December 31 and those entering Grade 1 in September must be 6 by the end of the year.
“Across the UAE they are trying to standardise between the public and private,” said Thuraya Al Salmi, Adec’s manager of student administration.