Parents in new protest over school fees hike

UPDATE 1: Dubai school in discussions with authority to seek clarity over fee increase.

Parents of pupils at Dubai Modern High School on Wednesday held a silent protest outside the school against a fee increase which could see fees rise by 100 percent.

Gems Education, the owner of the school which owns more than 26 schools across the emirates, warned parents that such protests went “against the ethos and culture of the school community, as well as the laws of the UAE".

The demonstration was the second in a week. On Thursday between 200-300 parents held a demonstration.

Talks between Gems Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) are taking place to determine whether or not plans to increase a Gems run school fees by 110 percent are reasonable.

Gems told Arabian Business on Tuesday that it was in discussions with KHDA.

“We are in conversation with KHDA to gain further clarity on the fee increase approvals they have already given,” said Dino Varkey, the senior director of business development at Gems.

Last week Gems said the fee hike was a result of an increase in rent which had forced it to relocate the school.

“In April we are moving Dubai Modern High School into a new state of the art building with many new and exciting facilities. There was no increase in fees for this current academic year.

“We have had to increase fees to cover these increased costs and to ensure we continue to provide and improve the high quality education that the school is known for,” said a statement.

The increase will affect more than 2,000 students at the Indian syllabus school, which will move from Jumeirah to a new campus in Nad Al Sheba, around five times its current campus size.

Under the proposed increase Grade 1 pupil’s fees would increase from 15,950 dirhams ($4,340) for the current academic year to 33,520 dirhams ($9,130) for the 2010/2011 academic year.

“We’re devastated,” one parent told Arabian Business. “We knew there would be a fee hike because schools who shift their premises don’t come under the fee cap, but 90 percent during a recession, when all of us have a wage freeze [is wrong].”

According to The National, 53 parents have threatened to take their children out of the school next term as a direct result of the fee increase.

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Posted by: Kiran

With the recession on hand all the expenses are being hiked instead of decreasing the cost. We still facing the problem of rent hike with the salary freeze or cut down and there arrives a new problem for parents. How can we afford to pay the fees of 90% increase. I am sure looking into the GEMS other schools will also try to do the same. If this happens I will not be surprised with parents either moving out the kids out of this school and admit to another school or they might just move back to their own country. Currently we have so many of them already moving out of UAE that I will not be surprised with more numbers added to it.

Posted by: Saeid

Absolutely preposterous! Ajman free Zone just increased their rents by 75% also. Where do these people get off, I have no idea. I truly believe that the world is becoming a dark place

Posted by: TG

With two kids in the same school the annual increase is not acceptable. Is the new school facility being depreciated in the first year itself that the entire capex cost is being recovered in the first 2 years itself?

Posted by: Dharam L

No one talks about what will be done with the current space and how much more money it will generate for the school (for vacating or alternative use) owners. Even the small reduction announced in the 2nd year will be more than made up by them w/ school bus fees increase (which was recently increased by 300%). Instead of proposing to revike the Padma Shri, I recommend that the owner be bestowed a Bharat Ratna - for all the wrong reasons i.e gross misuse of power and making a bad example out of a noble profession like education. They are holding parents/ students to ransom at such short notice and ridiculing them by offering discounts!!

Posted by: Alex Darkes

If I was working for another school in Dubai I would be offering the parents of these children a very attractive rate to swap their children into my school - which no doubt will have lost a few students in the downturn. Parents have options - change schools. Vote with your feet and your wallets. If you are the principal of another school - act quick and you may have new and very happy customers for the length of their children's education.

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