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Abu Dhabi: The educational arm of Abu Dhabi has admitted 579 students from 15 different nationalities into the pilot phase of its first Virtual Charter School – a new education option for Abu Dhabi-based expatriate students from lower income families financially affected by COVID-19.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) announced that the Virtual Charter School was designed to provide quality education free-of-charge to students, who were forced to leave private schools when their parents could no longer afford fees.

“The Virtual Charter School is open to students of all nationalities whose families have been financially impacted by COVID-19. This not-for-profit public-private partnership model offers alternative education delivery which redresses learning loss in a pandemic and provides an invaluable bridge for students to continue their education,” explained Sara Musallam, ADEK’s Chairman.

The Abu Dhabi Virtual Charter School was launched in October 2020 and currently follows the Ministry of Education (MoE) private school curriculum, with potential expansion plans for wider curriculum diversity based on identified needs. It is currently in its pilot phase.

Offering a hybrid learning experience, the new Virtual Charter School is operated by Edurizon Education Services, a subsidiary of AlephYa Education.

“This inclusive approach enhances our commitment to ensure quality education for all and is in-line with our strategic priority of building an attractive education ecosystem which reinforces Abu Dhabi’s position as a pioneering regional and international education hub delivering distinctive and appropriate opportunities for all learners accessing education services,” said Musallam.

“The school is also aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” she noted.

With the Virtual Charter School catering to students in grades 5-11 and supplying loaned digital devices on a complementary basis, students are permitted transfers to alternative private schools in accordance with ADEK rules and policies. However, parents financially affected by COVID-19 who have enrolled their children in the Virtual Charter School must pay all outstanding amounts to their children’s previous private school, and settle fee arrears prior to re-enrolling children in the private school system.

Saeed Al Hajeri, Edurizon Board member, hailed the Virtual Charter School, as a shining example of public-private sector collaboration.

“We know the critical importance of a quality education and we were immediately on board to support an initiative which solves a real education need. The Virtual Charter School model leverages the power of ADEK, which will monitor the project’s implementation and operation, and Edurizon, which will operate and manage the school and the learning services,” said Al Hajeri.

“There is the potential to expand the Virtual Charter School model to include wider curriculum diversity based on identified needs and we encourage more private sector companies to utilize their resources and expertise to service communities who directly benefit from non-profit solutions,” he added.

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