Abu Dhabi: More than 150 parents affected by the global financial slowdown voiced their concern at a 100 per cent increase in transportation fees at a particular GEMS school in Abu Dhabi.

Our Own English School Abu Dhabi (OOES-AD) recently decided to outsource their bus transportation services after failing to sustain losses. The school sent parents a circular claiming that transportation charges had increased from Dh150 to Dh300 per month.

The 100 per cent hike has angered many parents who have voiced their complaints through a petition sent to the school principal, George Mathew.

The parents said they felt that the attempt and subsequent process to outsource an existing facility was a clever marketing ploy to extract money from parents.

"We desperately fail to understand what levels of extra safety standards, degree of efficiency, customer service and regulatory compliance would justify a 100 per cent increase in charges," the petition stated.

During the 2006/2007 academic year, the school had already increased fees by 20 per cent.

The school's principal told Gulf News that the cost of transportation had been subsidised by the school for many years. He added that the school was no longer in a position to continue offering the extra service.

"Bus transportation isn't mandatory and many schools don't even offer that service to parents. We, as a school, will not be receiving any of these fees, they will all go to the transportation company," Mathew said.

When Dr Moosa Palakal, Health and Safety Manager, who has twin children in the fourth grade, questioned the schools untimely choice, he was told that it was a corporate management decision.

"They should have sent a customer survey and communicated with parents ahead of time. Parents are completely blown away since for many of them this is a burden, especially given the increase in rent prices, insecurity in jobs, along with the general global economic crunch," he said.

V.A., an accountant with children in the seventh and tenth grades, complained that the exact same services and buses would be used in spite of the increase in price.

"Asking us to pay double what we were paying for the exact same service is outrageous. I have never had any complaints against the school in spite of certain observations we all had as parents and kept silent about them, until this decision was made," added the parent.

A spokesperson from Bright Bus Transport, which will provide the outsourced service, did not deny using the exact same 15 schools buses used prior to the hike, along with some of the school's drivers.

"We will be selecting the good drivers and providing them with 30 hours of training in the next few days to ensure parents that their children are in safe hands," he said.

He said Dh300 would be charged for children living within Abu Dhabi and Dh330 for those living on the outskirts of the emirate.

"Our charges are based on distance, number of students, buses provided and the capacity utilisation," he said.

Your comments

Clearly confirms how the decision-makers have once again 'professionally' extorted from the less-fortunate during a financial crisis. There is no more respect left for the management. What a shame!
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:36

I would like to ask MR. Talal M how much he is earning? Moreover, which parent would not like to send their children to the best schools with the best facilities. The price of everything is increasing and the only thing that does not increase is employees' salaries. I wish people like you would get a chance to live like us for a year and I bet you would feel differently about the situation then.
Vimal Vincent
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:35

Our Own Group of schools [ the Gems group] is doing the tactics of catching fish in the troubled waters. Increase of tuition fee on one side, plus the doubling of schools fee through a fake mask of Bright Bus Trasnsport on the other. EduShield - their 'initiative' attempt to expand their own business arena.
Agniyah Shaikh
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:25

I decided to send my family back to India due to insecurity of job, still practically house rent is not falling and hike of school fees.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:20

After reading all the comments, I too am with all the parents. GEMS management must not increase the school fees as well as bus transport fees.
From A Reader
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:17

This whole increase in tution fees, outsourcing transport, etc. is just a money making method. If they are going to use the same drivers, care takers and buses too then where is the need to state that they are outsourcing the transport facility. And if Gems feel that they were charging us a minimum which they have stated in their circular to us then they should have increased the transport fees a little and not say that they are outsourcing the transport when they are actually not. And the time that they have put all this into action is basically not the right time since the whole world is in a problem where finance is concerned. And if this is the scenario then I don't think many people are going to stick on. An educational institute behaving in such a manner is not acceptable at all as the business is to educate children and not make money out of proportion from parents.
Loraine D'souza
Posted: March 17, 2009, 17:12

I feel people are blowing things out of proportion, my opinion is if you really have a big problem of paying more for your child's future then you should leave and put your children in less expensive schools if money is the issue. But money should not be an issue when it comes to your child's education!
Talal Bin M
Posted: March 17, 2009, 14:45

GEMS is just playing around with parents, everyone knows of the last time when they increased the transport fee saying cost of fuel has gone up. Now, they have come up with another story. All parents should know that Bright Bus company is not a new company. It also belongs to GEMS business unit. It is white washing parents to belive they are outsourcing. Its the time for us parents to wake up to this suitation.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 14:11

This is not only in Abu Dhabi. Our Own English High school in sharjah also increased the Transport fees by 100%. During this time of global recession, it is not at all fair to increase their fees.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 14:05

I was told by the school authorities that they are "introducing" state of art facility for transportation with an outsourced facility. However, they will not pick the child from our doorstep, instead from the main road parking lot!. Secondly, they introduced "edushield", the insurance scheme, compelling parents to avail it. I was told that "we have short listed those parents who can bear this..."
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: March 17, 2009, 13:55

Even the schools have become so commercial that they do not even think about the burden on the parents, especially those in the middle-income groups.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 13:44

No wonder one can't expect anything more than these kind of 'acts' from people without any social responsibility.
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: March 17, 2009, 13:42

Our Own English Sharjah has also increased the bus fees. I have two children studing in grade 1 and 4. Now we too have an 110% hike in the bus fee. We also heard that there is going to be a 30% increase in the school fee as well. Whether the bus fee is going to the school or the Bright Bus transport, it is going from our pocket. We are struggling here to make a living and savings. But now it as if you have to make your living but spend it right here.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 13:12

Hey!! it is time that the parents contact some bus hiring companies and arrange alternate transport instead of depending on the school tranportation. Parents have to unite and spare some time to source and negotiate for alternate transport.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 13:05

It was a big shock when my daughter came with a circular saying that they have outsource the bus
Rupa Sunilkumar
Posted: March 17, 2009, 12:54

I came to know that this outsource company is belongs to relatives of Verkey group and they have internal arrangment. Now the diesel price also come down. This is an extra burden to parents.
Posted: March 17, 2009, 12:52

Our own english high school, Boys branch, Sharjah, has also taken the same step. A week before the school was about to close we were given a circular about the bus services being outsourced, but the drivers and the buses will be the same. Many parents were shocked by this decision. I genuinely feel that the school management should not take such a step when some parents are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Nimrah Hussain
Posted: March 17, 2009, 12:28

I feel that this is another sales tactics. The school management wants to increase certain percentage of tuition fees
Posted: March 17, 2009, 12:06

The hiking of transport fees for school children, all of a sudden by 100% is outrageous and not acceptable. This increase should be in stages and in prior consultation with parents. This increase should be investigated and re-considered.
Noel Pinto
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: March 17, 2009, 11:57

As parents, We are also facing the same problem but in Sharjah and we are helpless in this regard. I can see only media reports trying to convey our agony and pain we feel. Its a Pay or Leave Choice for us, where we can opt only to "pay".
Rakesh Maringanti
Posted: March 17, 2009, 11:19

The spokesperson from Bright Bus transportation says that they will ensure parents that their children are in safe hands. That means all these years the children were not in safe hands? Is there no one to trying to stop this by the school and the bus companies? Education has become utterly business.
Surya Prakash
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: March 17, 2009, 11:06

This is the same method GEMS were adopted last year in Dubai. Outsouring bus service another money making business of these people. You can see the same bus, same driver and same superivsor, only the difference when you pay the bus fee you will get a receipt in the name of bright transport. rest of everything same...
Posted: March 17, 2009, 10:30