Dubai: A Pakistani couple in Sharjah is longing to see their four children return to school after they dropped out in 2015 because of a series of financial setbacks and visa issues.
Asghar Hussain, who was a successful used electronics businessman, had to pull out his three daughters and son from school as he owed Dh21,000 in fees. Their visas had also not been renewed since 2012.
His son, now aged 22, had managed to complete grade 12 but his high-school graduation certificate has been withheld as he has not paid the overdue tuition, Hussain said.
The daughters were in grades 10, 8, and 6 when they left school.
The family recently availed of the UAE amnesty for illegal residents (those whose visas expired or were not obtained lawfully), which ends on December 31, but Hussain still owes around Dh21,000 to Pakistan Islamia Higher Secondary School Sharjah.
The family also needs to pay Dh13,000 in rent dues for their two-bedroom apartment in Al Musalla area.
All family members now have valid UAE visas because they availed of the amnesty in time.
Hussain, 52, used to run a business selling second-hand electronic goods in Industrial Area 6. Problems began, he said, in 2008 after “an employee defrauded me of around Dh600,000”.
Hussain said: “He forged my signature on my chequebooks to clean out my bank accounts while I was on a business trip in Germany, and he fled the country with my money. I had business loans and had to pay off around Dh600,000 by 2010 — which I managed to do eventually.”
In 2011, his company’s license expired and he had no money to renew it and pay for an office space, which was required as part of the renewal process.
“I subsequently couldn’t renew my family’s visas a year later in 2012. After that, in 2014, my own visa also expired. I did some deals in the scrap business to keep the house running. But it wasn’t enough to keep my kids in school — that’s what hurts us the most.”
He added: “My son and daughter were giving tuition at home to children when they should have been learning in school like them.”
Hussain said his son Sarmad, who is not on his father’s sponsorship as he is now over 18 years old, has a six-month visa (with three months remaining now).
“He would like to continue on in the UAE by starting his higher education journey. But he still has to obtain his high school certificate by clearing the overdue school fees. Ideally, I would like my daughters to continue in the same school. But right now, there’s no money for that.”
Hussain, who moved to Sharjah from Lahore in 2002, said he also has to settle fines on his car, whose registration he has not been able to renew since 2011.
“I have no bank case or visa problem, by God’s grace. I was a successful businessman in Sharjah, having established a company in South Korea as well, which is still valid. Our fortunes changed after I was defrauded. One thing led to another,” he said.
Hussain added: “Like any parent, all I really want is to see my children go to school.”