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Dubai: New Indian Model School (NIMS) in Dubai has discontinued distance learning of students whose parents have not paid fees nor reached a deal on payment schemes.

Some parents of affected students on Tuesday complained to Gulf News the school had withheld distance learning from their children. They acknowledged they have not paid the fees, citing salary delays.

The parents said the school should provide more time before discontinuing distance learning.

“I haven’t received my salary yet so I haven’t been able to pay the due fees for my two children, in grades two and four. It’s not easy to keep calling the school to negotiate, they don’t always answer,” said parent Mohammad Habib Okkas.

‘Difficult times’

“These are difficult times for everyone, there should be more understanding. Parents are spending money on devices for distance learning and spending hours with younger children to help them study online.”

Okkas added that he was satisfied with the teachers of the school but felt parents should have more say in the issue of fees, such as discounts.

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, said his child in KG was also unable to access distance learning, which will continue till summer break as schools are closed as a precaution against coronavirus. He too has not paid as his salary has been delayed.

Grace period

NIMS principal James Richard told Gulf News in a statement the school has already extended a grace period to pay and had sent reminders to parents.

“The [Indian] academic year 2019/20 for the school was completed on March 31 and the next academic year 2020/21 began on April 1. Due to the challenging world situation, the students whose parents had cleared their last academic year fees were offered as a grace period initially until April 10 and then until April 20 to pay fees for the current academic year. We offered this whether the parent had re-registered their child or not. During this period, students were offered online learning and many circulars emails and SMS messages were sent to parents reminding them we could not further extend this grace period,” Richard said.

‘Exercise our right’

“April 20 was the last day of this grace period and in accordance with the distance learning guidance Item 9 issued by KHDA [Knowledge and Human Development Authority] we had to exercise our right to withhold distance learning from students whose parents have not paid their fees and not come to an agreement with the school.”

NIMS fees are among the lowest in Dubai at Dh535 per month, on average.

Offering concession

Richard said: “We empathise with our parents but at the same time we have a moral responsibility to take care of the 1,000 families who are dependent upon income from the school.”

He added that though the school has the right to collect fees for the whole term as one payment, “we offer the concession of monthly payment to our parents to try to ease the burden of fees payments”.

Claims answered

Richard also denied claims by some parents the school was currently asking for bus and lab fees on top of tuition fees.

“Indeed, we have even deferred some of the annual fees which were approved by KHDA to minimise the monthly cost to parents. Payment plans have been arranged for parents and help and advice given regarding offers available from banks and credit card companies. We have also held virtual parent cafés in the school to address parent concerns regarding e-learning.”