Dubai Faced with imminent closure, a Pakistani school is pleading for a two-year extension on its lease due to expire in March 2013.
“We have enough funds and are ready to pay the rent too. All we are asking is just two more years so that we can finish construction of our new school building. But no one is willing to listen to us,” said Ubaid Rehman, owner of Al Farooq Pakistan School located at Hor Al Anz.
According to a statement by education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the school has been served an eviction notice by the rent committe as it has not paid its rent for two years.
However, the school owners refute the statement claiming they have always paid their rent on time. “We do not understand why KHDA has issued a wrong statement. For the last four years, we have never defaulted on rent payments. Even the rent cheque for the month of October has been honoured. We have enough funds to pay rent for two more years, if only we get the permission to run the school,” Rehman told XPRESS.
Operating from a Ghusais villa since 1986, the school relocated to its current location — a public school building — following a Federal Law that banned villa schools. It is one of three Pakistani schools in Dubai that have been repeatedly rated unsatisfactory in the KHDA’s school inspection reports. The school charges tuition fees ranging from Dh260 to Dh400 for Grades 1 to 10.
The Dubai Knowledge Fund that functions directly under the Government of Dubai leased the building to the school for one year for an annual rent of Dh500,000 plus Dh100,000 as security deposit.
According to Rehman, the Knowledge Fund agreed to extend the contract every year with a hike in rent because the school’s plan to procure a new plot was met with inordinate delays.
“Now a 38,000 square foot plot is ready at our previous location in Al Ghusais, and we have already got the building permit to start construction. But if authorities close down the school, it will affect the future of 900 students and over 70 teaching and non-teaching staff,” said Rehman.
“The parents of our school children owe us over Dh1 million in outstanding tuition fees. If they find out that the school is closing down next year, nobody will pay their fees dues. Moreover, we’ll have to pay gratuities and other benefits to our staff who will also lose their jobs.”
The school has also accused KHDA of freezing its file, thus affecting visa renewals and appointments of teachers. “They are also refusing to register over 200 new students who enrolled with us, despite giving written permission for enrollment for the current academic year,” said Rehman.
limited choice for parents
Parents are also concerned since there is a limited choice of Pakistani curriculum schools in Dubai. Mohammad Riyaz, who has nine children studying in the school, said his children may have to go back to Pakistan as other schools are expensive. “I am paying Dh7,000 every month in tuition fees and transportation charges for my nine children. There is no other school which has a similar fee structure that I can afford,” said Riyaz, who works as a crane operator.
Meanwhile, KHDA is coordinating with other schools, including the two Pakistani curriculum schools, to find seats for affected students and facilitate paperwork to ensure the smooth transfer of these students to other schools of their choice.