Dubai: Private schools in Dubai have been accused of fleecing parents over plans to bump up fees.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has already allowed increases at 83 schools, while more than 20 applications are pending.
According to KHDA, out of 146 private schools, 129 are eligible for fee increases in accordance with the framework announced in April. So far 117 schools have applied.
Mohammad Darwish, Chief of Regulation and Compliance Commission at KHDA says approvals are only granted in respect of the framework.
However, parents are crying foul over the system, claiming they are being fleeced.
“My children study in a school which has been downgraded from good to acceptable, still it announced a fee hike of three per cent,” said parent Anthony Gomes, whose children attend a British school.
“KHDA should not allow schools that are downgraded or rated unsatisfactory to hike fees.”
Almost all Indian schools in Dubai announced a fee hikes ranging from three to nine per cent in the middle of the year, with retrospective effect.
“[We received] one simple SMS from the school [to say that] tuition and transport fees have been revised with permission from the KHDA,” said Naman B., whose two children study at Delhi Private School.
“If [a parent has] already paid for this term, the difference will be made up in the next term fee. I am sure it’s going to hurt many parents’ plans.”
The KHDA says Indian schools were allowed to implement the fee hike retrospectively because their academic year starts early, after the framework was announced.
“The School Fees Framework was released on April 8, 2012 by the Executive Council and all private schools (including Indian curriculum schools) were required to implement it from the academic year 2012-13,” Darwish said.
“Since Indian curriculum schools had already begun their academic year a week prior to the announcement of the framework, Indian schools applied the fee retrospectively.”
It’s not the way the framework has been implemented that irks the parents, it’s the system of inspection that is attached to the fee hike, which many say is not based on reality.
‘Good is bad’
“I always wonder how KHDA decides the quality of the school as when they go for inspection, schools change everything from attitude towards children to general atmosphere in the premises,” said one parent, who asked to remain anonymous.
“Suddenly the teachers become so polite, the school becomes clean, intelligent students are taught what they have to say in front of the inspectors and so on.
“Some parents are also called in to be at the school and they know too what they have to say.
“If schools earn their good ratings based on such a show then this good is bad for parents as these ratings are used to hike fees.”
The parent claimed to have written several times to the KHDA without response.
Schools argue that fee increases do not match the rising cost of providing education.
“We can make fees more affordable for parents if government gives land to schools to have their own buildings,” said Guruswami Kalloor, CEO of JSS International School, which increased fees by 3 per cent and was rated ‘acceptable’.
A spokesperson from GEMS, which manages several schools including Dubai Modern, said: “The ability to increase fees is linked to inspection outcomes as per KHDA’s policy.
“Dubai Modern High School achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating meaning it could increase fees by 6 per cent.
“The fees will go towards the continual improvement in teaching and learning, infrastructure and salaries so that Modern’s outstanding students continue to receive the very best education.”