Home-schooling remains unregulated
ABU DHABI // The regulation of traditional home-schooling is a grey area.
In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority says it has “yet to include this type of education in its remit” and “the regulations for home-schooling are not yet in place”.
In the capital, the Abu Dhabi Education Council “does not encourage students to home school, but we also cannot reject them either”.
About 4,000 pupils, mostly boys, in Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and Al Gharbia have signed up for home education, but this figure only includes Emiratis or GCC nationals over the age of 15 who follow the Ministry of Education curriculum in Arabic and are unable to attend traditional school.
“These students register through Adec, collect textbooks, go home, study and then sit the exams at end of each term,” Adec said. “This is a programme organised through the MoE, and Adec has, more or less, informally inherited this area.”
The online registration process for the programme is in Arabic.
The KHDA does not know how many students are home schooled in Dubai.
“KHDA is responsible for regulating private schools in Dubai,” said Amal BelHasa, chief of the authority’s compliance and resolution commission. “We do our best to accommodate all students who are struggling with the system or need to make alternative arrangements for their schooling.”
K12 International Academy in Dubai, which offers home online education and teacher support for pupils throughout the Middle East, has “more than 300” expatriate and Emirati pupils from across the country registered for its American curriculum course.
“Students and parents come to us for a variety of reasons,” said Cody Claver, the school’s vice president of business development. “It could be anywhere from the student is medically fragile – so being at a physical school every day is not really a possibility for them – to those who might have special needs where this type of learning environment works well for them.
“We also find that students who are on the other end of the educational spectrum – the gifted and talented students – tend to do very well in this programme because it is mastery-based so students can move at a pace that suits their needs.”
It is difficult to estimate the number of students who are home schooled the traditional way, because expatriates can educate their children at home without having to report to any government body.
“How could they know that if you don’t have to register your kids?” said Laura Noueihed, 43, an American who has been home schooling her three children for seven years,
“The only information they can possibly have is on Emiratis. Emiratis are highly regulated. They have public schools and they’re required to attend them,” said Ms Noueihed, a member of the Abu Dhabi Homeschoolers Association, one of a handful of grass-roots groups offering support to home schoolers.
The Government advises “you to follow the laws and regulations of your home country”, said Seema Khan, 37, an American who has also been home schooling her three children for seven years.
In countries where home schooling is legal, such as the United States and Canada, regulation is left to individual states or provinces and varies from no regulation at all to requiring parents to register their lesson plans with the local school board and have their children tested.
But the less regulation, the better, say parents of home-schooled children. After all, home schooling is based in part on the philosophy that parent-teachers know what learning style is best suited for their children.
“There are all sorts of different philosophies about how children learn, so you can really specifically teach to what your child’s needs are,” Mrs Noueihed said.
“You find the right curriculum based on trial and error. You just try something, great, and if not you just try something else.”
Updated: September 17, 2014 04:00 AM