The countdown to the reopening of schools in the UAE is underway, with education zones offering the choice of blended or e-learning models for students beginning the new academic year or a new term.
Amid the hectic preparations, some schools have pledged to continue providing financial relief in the new term for parents hit hard by salary cuts, job losses or downturns in business as a result of the pandemic.
However, such commitments remain alarmingly low in the UAE’s schools, and many schools have totally ignored repeated requests of countless parents for financial relief.
Education regulators in the UAE must support distressed parents at this critical time and keep close tabs on schools aiming to profiteer from the pandemic.
While education zones and the education ministry have already taken some proactive measures — Dubai schools, for instance, are not allowed to raise their fees for the new academic year — some schools and school groups have unfortunately chosen to profit from the pandemic and the compulsion of parents to ensure academic continuity for their children.
At a time when academic institutions around the world and the UAE are striving to make education as affordable as possible for parents, these schools have made it their mission to exploit every opportunity and make education as unaffordable as possible.
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Whether it’s charging for non-existent physical books, continuing to bill for extra-curricular facilities, hiring teachers for online learning from home countries at a pittance or refusing to consider an iota of financial relief for parents, the disgraceful behaviour of these schools is in stark contrast to the humane approach adopted by other academic institutions in the UAE — which is the hallmark of true education.
It’s a well-known fact that school fees comprise one of the most significant chunk of financial burden for families in the UAE.
Adopting a compassionate policy
It is therefore time for all schools and other educational institutions in the UAE to adopt a compassionate policy for financial relief and fee discounts to families genuinely affected by the pandemic.
While schools surely need to remain a viable business and invest in continued learning, they also have had robust room for cost savings through the long-term closure of their campuses and recreation facilities, reduced utility and maintenance bills and so on.
Education regulators in the UAE must also support distressed parents at this critical time and keep close tabs on schools aiming to profiteer from the pandemic.
While education has consistently ranked as one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the UAE, if scores of parents are forced to withdraw their children from schools in the UAE due to unaffordable fees, it will not only leave a permanent scar on the kids’ minds but also on the thriving business of education in the country.