DUBAI: Parents of Indian students have raised a howl of protest about overpriced textbooks being sold to them for three or four times their original price in India.

“This is injustice,” said Karim, an Indian IT executive and a father of two children who go to a Garhoud primary school. “One textbook that costs Rs150 (Dh10) in India is being sold to us for Dh33, a dictionary for Rs195 (Dh13) is sold for Dh40 here,” he said. “Some schools don’t even have the decency to remove or smudge the price in rupees when they send their price list to us in dirhams.”

XPRESS obtained a textbook price list showing the three-fold mark-up charged by a school. Besides textbooks, school fees in the emirate increased by 4.5 per cent on an average in 2012, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

free to buy textbooks

In an earlier statement, the KHDA said parents were free to procure textbooks and uniforms from anyone in the market.

A frustrated parent said she will lodge a complaint with the authority. Shalini, an Indian housewife, said she was charged Dh650 for textbooks and supplies for her Grade 4 child in an Indian-curriculum (CBSE) school.

“The school has not even bothered to provide the price per book. They just charged a lump sum,” she said. Along with text-books, the school also gave books, notebooks, art material and stationery — which she suspects are just to cover the textbook rip-off.

“A lot of the material they have given is not required,” said Rohini, a mother of two, citing the pack of erasers, pack of pencils, straws and art material as examples. “We already have these items at home. They did not even mention the price of these items,” Rohini added.

Another parent, Nehal, said, “It is a rip-off. The schools should not treat textbooks as money-making machines.”

Sunil, a parent of a child in Dubai, said: “The school where my son studies got an average rating from the KHDA. They did not increase the fee and we feel that they are overcharging us by making us pay heavily for books.”

Others view the textbook overpricing as a fait accompli.

“We have already incurred the costs, there’s nothing left to be done. I doubt that this is the only cost we are incurring and that there would be no additional costs for projects.”

Sheetal P., an Indian mother of a KG2 pupil in another Dubai private school, said not all notebooks she paid for were used by her son last year. “One may think a one-time payment of Dh375 for a year may not be much. But for the stationary that comes along with it, I can get it for less than half the price. Most of the time we don’t need to spend more for these things as we already have them at home.”