Dubai: When their friends went back to school on September 1, Indian expatriate A. Ali’s two children had to sit at home in Dubai.
His son and daughter, who are supposed to attend grades eight and six, respectively, at a Dubai school, cannot attend classes in the new academic year unless their parents pay around Dh12,000, including Dh6,500 due from the last year, and buy books for another Dh2,400.
Ali, whose pest control company went bust after he was jailed for causing an accident last year, claims that he has not been able to make both ends meet for the past several months. His wife, who used to work in a salon, has also been jobless for a month now.
“We have not paid rents for two months. But, what is bothering us more is our children’s education,” his wife S. Sultana told Gulf News.
Ali’s children are not the only Indian students who face a bleak future as their parents cannot afford to pay their school fees.
Another Indian father, who did not wish to be named, said his two children, who are supposed to be in grades 10 and five, dropped out of school three years ago. His youngest daughter, who is six, has never been to a school.
When their friends go to school, these children stay at home as their father could not pay their school fees after his company was shut following which he had cases against him.
Gulf News is also aware of some other cases in which children, who were sent back home to India to pursue higher studies, have not been able to secure their transfer certificates from here because of the dues in their previous schools.
Cases with the consulate
Unable to pay pending school fees of their children, dozens of Indian students have sought help from the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
Since January 2018, parents of 48 students have approached the mission seeking help to settle the pending school fees of their wards in Dubai and the northern emirates, Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, told Gulf News.
Vipul clarified that the mission does not have the provision to provide financial aid through the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in such cases.
“Under the ICWF, while we can offer financial support for a number of distress situations, we cannot pay any fees for students,” Vipul clarified.
However, he said, the mission remains in touch with the principals of various Indian schools as it keeps getting “a number of requests from students for waiver of school fees because of parental hardships”. “We take up the cases with respective schools and request for discounts,” said Vipul.
How many have benefitted?
Of the 48 requests received by the mission, he said, 18 benefitted with financial support from the schools and community leaders. In about 20 cases, the families eventually went back to India. Three or four cases were not found fit by the consulate for any action, the consul general said.
Pankaj Bodkhe, consul for education, said most students whose requests were taken up by the mission benefitted from discounts given by the schools. However, he said some schools these days are reluctant to offer discounts as their operations also get hampered when many students do not pay their fees on time.
Vipul said some Indian families have also received financial support from local charity organisations and Indian associations. “We hope that in deserving cases, especially when students are very bright, the community leaders would be able to help more. But we also request families to sincerely look at schools that take lower fees or send the children back to India if they foresee financial difficulties,” the consul general advised.
Scholarships for NRIs
The Indian consul general also urged expatriate students to take advantage of the Indian government’s scholarship scheme for children of Non Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origins to pursue higher studies in India.
The last date for online application for the Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC) for the academic year 2019-2020 is November 30. More details are available on spdcindia.gov.in