Many schools in Dubai have measures in place to mitigate the stress on parents who are struggling financially. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: Parents across UAE schools are continuing with their pleas for a cut in the tuition fees of their children, even as some UAE schools have still not announced blanket discounts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While parents want the schools to share their economic burden, education providers have said that they aim to offer support while continuing to pay staff.

Anticipating pandemic-related economic hardship, the UAE’s education authorities - the UAE Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, and Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) - last month urged education providers to offer tuition discounts and other forms of relief.

GEMS Education, the UAE’s largest provider, announced a means-tested approach for awarding tuition relief to families.

“[The package], designed to support families that have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak by providing meaningful and immediate relief in the form of tuition fee discounts for the current term, will benefit more than 20,000 students across the GEMS network,” the provider said in a statement to Gulf News on Thursday.

A GEMS spokesperson said, “As we have stated, student fees go towards teacher salaries and the upkeep of our schools, despite the crisis, in addition to the significant investment we make in facilitating the e-learning programme. As much as we want to do more to support all families, we believe that the need of the hour is to focus primarily on families that have been affected.”

Not all parents are convinced. One parent who has two children enrolled in GEMS schools alleged that his application for relief had been rejected despite job loss.

Another Dubai-based parent pointed to an email sent by GEMS and said, “We have been told that families that have not settled school fees will have enrolled children removed from the school’s remote learning programme for the current term. We have been asked to pay term fees by 12pm on Tuesday, April 21.”

“Our experience with remote learning thus far is that it has been disorganised and inadequate,” the parent said, appealing for consideration.

Gulf News has learnt that parents intend to tweet about their struggles on Twitter tomorrow (Friday, April 17).

Parental concerns about high education costs are not limited to GEMS schools.

Families with children enrolled at Indian High School have also been petitioning school authorities.

One parent said families are still being asked to pay ‘annual fees’.

“Please exempt the annual fees for this year and provide some discount on tuition fees,” he added.

A response from the school was however not immediately available.

Meanwhile, Gulf News has learnt that parents with children in UAE-based French curriculum schools are also dissatisfied with the high fees and existing standards of remote learning. They allege that families have not been given tuition relief till date, even though the schools are non-profit organisations.