Dubai: Parents in Dubai have hit back at the fees structure at private schools, claiming they are paying thousands of dirhams in excess of fees authorised by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Annual private school fees are regulated by KHDA and schools must get KHDA approval for any fees charged directly by schools.
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But parents have hit out, claiming schools charge for third party services which are not regulated by KHDA.
These third party services vary from school to school but can cover anything from books and uniforms to buses and extra curricular activities.
Frustrated parents claim these extra costs can add up to thousands of extra dirhams each school year.
One parent, who didn’t want to be named, told us: “It is an open fraud. Schools are allowed to outsource the services and activities and they charge exorbitant prices.
“What is the point in regulating the fees when you leave other avenues open for schools to charge extra?”
The annual fees for British and American Schools ranges from Dh30,000 to Dh50,000. At Asian schools this can be around Dh5,000 to Dh30,000 each year.
There are 148 private schools in Dubai and 79 government schools.
KHDA regulations state schools are not allowed to charge anything beyond what is approved.
But outsourcing, which is unregulated, is a growing trend and most extra-curricular activities and services like books and uniforms are outsourced by many schools.
Parents also say outsourced companies are often sister concerns of private schools.
The KHDA School Fees framework reads: “This framework is applicable to all tuition fees and all fees and costs for services that are provided by the school.
“However, this framework is not applicable for services provided by a third party.
“Fees and costs for non-tuition services provided by third parties must be optional for parents and are subject to the supervision and control of other government agencies.”
Explaining the KHDA standpoint, Afra Al Qamzi, cluster manager of the Schools Permit Department at KHDA, told Gulf News: “KHDA can only regulate the services offered by education providers that it licenses.
“Tuition fees cover the essential mandatory component related to curriculum delivery. Mandatory components of the curriculum delivery vary from school to school and curriculum to curriculum and depend a lot on the education board they follow.
“Anything not licensed by KHDA cannot be under their remit or control. We are however working with other government authorities to arrive at a method of regulating all fees in accordance with the consumer protection regulations.”
She also insisted that parents are free to procure books and uniforms for their children from anyone in the market and not necessarily from schools or their outsourced agents.
One parent with two children at a British Curriculum school, told us: “The issue is much more complicated. It is not books or uniforms alone that we are talking about.
“It is a number of things that we are being made to pay for over and above the annual approved fee.
“Every now and then we get circulars from the school about different activities which are offered for a particular fee, which I feel should be part of the curriculum.
“You cannot just ignore these offers. Schools mostly attach certain strings like linking it to overall progress of the students.”