Pakistan School Buraimi, a boon for the community
Pakistan School Buraimi which came up in 2016 has come as a lifeline for the Pakistani community in the region. Till 2014, Pakistani students in Buraimi used to attend schools in Al Ain before a visa rule introduced by the UAE government of charging AED23 for every entry (daily) forced them to sit at home. Many parents had to send their children back to Pakistan because of the high cost of the permit system.
The governorate is home to a significant number of Pakistanis. The community describes the new school as a ‘blessing’ as students had to struggle a lot due to lack of education facilities in the area and had to even travel long distances to attend schools.
Muscat Daily spoke to some of the students who had gone through the daily ordeal of commuting between Al Ain and Buraimi.
Kousar Waqar Ali and her younger sisters, Amna and Fatima have been living in Buraimi for the past 11 years.
Kousar said, “We would wake up at 5.30am every day and take a bus. At the border, our permit would be checked for entry into the UAE. In 2014, we were told that we can’t enter Al Ain through the Buraimi checkpoint to pursue our education. As a result we had to discontinue our studies.”
“I was in Grade VIII then. We had nowhere else to go to pursue our studies. We ended up waiting two years as we were told a school would come up in Bu- raimi. We are now attending the school in a more relaxed manner and we have friends who live here.”
Azhra Khatoon, a mother of six children, said, “All my children used to attend school in Al Ain. My children were outstanding in their studies. I was worried because my older children were in higher classes. My husband’s business was in Buraimi. So, I got my younger children admitted to Arabic schools here.
“I got my older children admitted to Pakistan School Muscat in grades VI, VIII and IX. We rented out a place in Muscat until they cleared their exams. It was a lot of hassle for us to shuttle between Muscat and Buraimi. It was very stressful to manage everything for two years.” Continued on
Azhra said many families moved their children back to Pakistan or other places. “The border used to be busy on Thursdays. At times it took one and a half hour for the rush to clear. Many children missed out on education for a couple of years. We are glad that there is a Pakistan school in Buraimi now.”
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Samina Khan, former principal of Pakistan School Buraimi, said, “It is almost a year since this school opened on August 10. I think this isn’t just any other school. It was something that had become a must for the Pakistani community in the region.”
She added, “Many studying in Al Ain had to discontinue their education. Most of them returned to Pakistan. There were children who were in senior classes and had to waste at least two years not because of lack of schools but the ones available were expensive. The fee was about RO150 per month at other schools which was unaffordable for many parents.”
She said that it took a while to get the requisite approvals to start the school.
“By then, many students had gone back to Pakistan. We got a fantastic response from the community initially. We had 50 students on the first day and in about nine months the enrolment touched 201.”
Samina said the school has 107 boys and 94 girls. “We have students from countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Albania and Bangladesh. The school has 14 teachers and classes till Grade VIII.”