Dubai: Parents of over 10,000 students will be benefiting, to various degrees, from GEMS Education’s financial Relief Package even amidst calls for a blanket discount for all parents of the school group.
While several schools have offered a discount on Term 3 tuition fees for all parents, GEMS schools and some others have limited discounts or special payment plans to parents who can prove they have been financially hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
GEMS Education is the UAE’s biggest private school group. It operates more than 250 schools in 13 countries, including over 50 in the UAE, teaching around 174,000 students internationally in total.
On Tuesday, a GEMS Education spokesperson announced new details of the Relief Package, described earlier as a “means-tested” approach, which reserves financial assistance “to those that most need it”.
The spokesperson said: “Since launching our COVID-19 Relief Package, designed to direct school fee relief to those that most need it, we have received in excess of 7,000 applications, covering more than 10,000 students. We are working to process these applications in the shortest time possible and will be contacting parents directly in the coming days to inform them of the level of assistance they can expect based on their unique circumstances.”
However, all parents will receive a waiver of all registration, assessment and administration fees until further notice, the spokesperson added.
“The window to apply for our Relief Package has been extended until midnight on Wednesday 15 April, and parents can still apply retrospectively should their situations change beyond this date… Our goal is to provide seamless education while ensuring the safety of our students.”
The announcement comes even as a call on ipetitions.com for all GEMS parents to receive “minimum 30 per cent fees reduction” for Term 3 has exceeded its goal to collect 14,000 signatures, reaching over 14,820 by Tuesday midday.
The petition says paying full term fees when schools are closed and instead offering distance learning is “unjustified”.
Salomy Kaseke commented on the platform on Monday: “As a parent I am spending half of my day assisting my kids instead of concentrating on my own work which brings income to the family. It’s a difficult time for all of us and Gems should re-assess on fees.”
A letter from “Parents at GEMS Education” sent to Gulf News said the means-tested approach “implies that we, parents, are required to furnish our financial status and credentials to avail these relief measures… as proof of our sufferings”.
It added: “We expect a minimum of 20 per cent fee curtailment for all parents and more for parents who have lost jobs and/or in deep financial crisis.”