A student using their computer for e-learning
A student using their computer for e-learning Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan, Gulf News

Dubai: Private schools in Dubai can suspend distance learning of students whose parents do not pay fees even after being offered “agreeable” payment plans, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said in a new circular to principals.

The new directives come to “balance the needs of parents and schools” as teaching and learning shifts online till end of term and families and education providers cope with the impact of the coronavirus.

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A KHDA circular sent Wednesday page one Image Credit: Supplied

The circular’s ninth and last directive says: “Schools have the right to withhold distance learning provision for students whose parents have not paid fees, nor come to a payment agreement with schools.”

Discounts and flexi payments

The three-page circular also says schools in Dubai “are free to offer” discounts and flexible payment plans to parents financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak during the period of distance learning.

Some schools recently announced fee discounts of 20 per cent or offered monthly (instead of Term-based) payments to help families facing uncertainty.

The KHDA circular follows the March 30 announcement by Ministry of Education of extending e-learning till the end of the current school year, which is in its final Term 3 for almost all curriculums. This same period covers Term 1 for schools whose new cycle begins from April, such as Indian and Pakistani schools.

The circular, signed by Mohammad Darwish, CEO of Permits and Compliance at KHDA, says: “We advise schools to contact parents who have not yet paid Term 3 fees to offer the option of a payment plan that is agreeable to both the school and the parent, so that children’s education is able to continue uninterrupted.”

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A KHDA circular sent Wednesday page two Image Credit: Supplied

“We understand that schools may want to provide additional support to parents who are experiencing financial difficulties. In these exceptional circumstances, schools are free to offer a discount on school fees during the period of distance learning. Schools may also change payment terms to suit parents’ needs, such as offering monthly payment options…”

Schools that have already given parents a fee discount for this academic year prior to the coronavirus outbreak should communication this to the KHDA, the circular says.

On Tuesday, UAE school group Al Najah Education, as well as other schools, announced a 20 per cent reduction in school fees at its Horizon English School and Horizon International School “to help families through the hard times that lie ahead”.

The same day, PACE Education Group announced the waiver of school transport fee as a relief to parents.

Taking steps

Punit MK Vasu, CEO of The Indian High School Dubai, said in a statement that most of its parents “have no reluctance in paying our extremely affordable fees”, which are Dh500 per month on average for its 13,000 students across three campuses.

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A copy of a KHDA circular sent Wednesday page three Image Credit: Supplied

However, the school group has taken several steps to assist parents in need.

Facilitating aid

“We are connecting parents with financial need to qualified and registered support entities and associations by providing the necessary supporting documentation and evidence to these entities to help them provide need-based financial aid to ease the burden of parents during these challenging times,” Vasu said.

Year-round monthly installments

“Our group of schools will provide monthly installments on all tuition fees spread over the entire year to ease the burden.”

He added: “We have also negotiated with several prominent local banks to ensure parents of our group of schools are provided interest-free, commission-free easy payment plans of upto 24 months for tuition fees.”

Waiving bus fees

The group has also waived off all bus fees from April to June and will refund or adjust bus fees paid in advance.