The academy is open to all nationalities.
Dedicated to the UAE’s Year of Tolerance, a Dubai based education technology firm Coded Minds has launched a country-wide community initiative called Hope academy to support students who cannot continue their studies because of financial constraints.
Hope Academy will offer these students in the age group 4-15 years high quality STEM education with core subjects of information technology, mathematics, science, social science and English for an annual fee of Dh1,000.
The academy is open to all nationalities. Just ten days after it was announced, it has received around 5,000 applications from students of different nationalities who’ve missed out on quality education due to financial issues.
Partnering with the Hope Academy, Pakistan Association Dubai and Pakistan Social Centre Sharjah have also opened their doors by offering premises and services to assist students that will get admission into the Hope Academy.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Omar Farooqui, founder of Coded Minds that launched the academy, said: “A large number of children are missing out on schools because of their parents’ inability to afford school fees. We believe that such an inability should not prevent any child from getting an education. This will be an alternative solution where we will undertake all efforts possible to ensure that each child is compensated for missing the cycle of education,” he said.
Keeping in mind the students’ circumstances, Hope Academy has not kept any particular criteria for admission. “We just take a brief interview of the child and then decide which class we can put him in. We have grouped children according to a loose age-group for example children between 4-6 years in one class; 6-8 years in another class and so on,” Farooqui said.
Pakistani expat Nazia Aqil Khan, who has been a Dubai resident for over 40 years, said her husband has been jobless for the last three years. Due to financial constraints her two daughters Zeenat, 12 and Zainab, 8, were asked to leave the school a year ago. ” It was painful to see my talented girls sit at home for a year doing nothing. I can manage without anything but I cannot bear to see my young daughters missing out on education. I know the value of education as I have been a teacher myself and I feel it is more important for girls to be educated as they have to raise children.”
Nazia, who is now living in her sister’s house as she cannot afford to rent a room, said her friends chipped in and managed to get admission for her two daughters at the Hope Academy.
“This is much more affordable than any other school here in Dubai and I am grateful they have accepted my daughters in the academy. They are so excited to start their education again. All I can give now is good wishes and prayers to Hope Academy for throwing this lifeline our way.”
Over a dozen teachers have been recruited for the academy, some of whom are professionals who have volunteered to teach in the academy. Each class will not have more than 30 children.
“The teachers are also being trained differently to handle each child differently. He or she will have every students’ profile and every child will be dealt with individually as these are special classes that will cater to students coming from different backgrounds, nationalities, age groups, circumstances and IQs. But the best part of these classes is that there will be no difference between a driver’s child or a director’s child. Everyone will be treated equally with love and respect,” Farooqui said.
Farooqui also lauded the support of all those who come forward to volunteer for the academy. ” I have received calls from a bank director saying he would want to come and teach children how to manage their finances better so they don’t end up in difficult situations like their parents did. We have paediatricians who want to come and hold sessions for students and teach them about importance of hygiene. Also a number of corporates, social clubs and international organisations have come forward to partner with the academy.”
Eight year old Sri Lankan boy Maisha was one of the first few students to get admission into the academy. He last went to school three years ago but since his parents could not afford his education, he dropped out of school. His father works as a gardener and his mother as a part time domestic help. His elder brother Harsha, 26, also left his studies half way and now works as a driver in Dubai.
“I want my son to be educated and get a good respectable job. I do not want him to clean bathrooms or wash the dishes. He wants to
become a doctor and we cannot be happier that Hope Academy has given him a chance to fulfill his dream by getting good education, “said Maisha’s mother wiping her tears.