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The Parent-School Contract is set to be introduced in 34 Indian and Pakistani schools in April 2015. During the first two phases of implementation, 24 schools adopted the contracts, which covered 38,624 students,the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said.

In 2015, it will become mandatory in all Indian and Pakistani schools, accounting for more than 80,000 students, approximately 33 per cent of the total studying in Dubai’s private schools. As part of student registration, all parents must sign the contract.

Designed to promote positive relationships and outline the rights and responsibilities of both schools and families, the Parent-School Contract includes refund and admission policies, school fees, attendance and punctuality, as well as health and safety provision and transportation. It addresses parental responsibilities such as providing schools with accurate medical, psychological and educational assessment records, to ensure students’ safety at school, KHDA said.

Under the curriculum section, the school outlines what it will offer in terms of mandatory subjects, options for students, and streaming and assessment processes. Due to the popularity of social media and forums, online bullying, as well as other forms of bullying, are also covered by the contract. As part of this, students and parents are advised to avoid any form of defamation or intentional harm on social media in or outside school hours.

To encourage positive communication and to strengthen relations between home and schools, KHDA encourages both parties to resolve disputes internally. In order to achieve this, the contract states that schools must set up an appeals process, to ensure parents and students have the right to fair and impartial decision making. Though most disputes can be solved through meetings and discussions, the appeals process should be in place for concerns, which may need further deliberation with the school principal or the board of governors.

Although only schools and parents will actually sign the contracts, students over the age of 15 will be required to read, understand, and acknowledge the contract, to show they’ve understood the key clauses.

“A constructive relationship between the school and families is key to ensuring that the rights of both are protected,” said Amal Bel Hasa, Chief of Compliance and Resolution Commission. “It is beneficial for both parties if these terms and conditions are clearly outlined in a contract. We encourage all parents to ensure that they’ve read and understood the contracts and sign them before the start of the new academic year.”

To date the contract has proved successful in other schools, with positive feedback from both principals and parents. Following the completion of the first phase, KHDA witnessed a 20% drop in complaints, suggesting schools and parents are finding it easier to resolve their disputes internally.