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UAE school fees are still a disgrace

Anil Bhoyrul believes registration fees demanded by schools are pure theft

Six months ago I wrote a column suggesting that the way school fees were set up in the UAE was nothing short of disgrace.

It got quite a reaction – and, I should say, a few threats from some dodgy characters in the industry. Six months on, has anything changed? Or course not. Why should it? Why should some schools stop ripping parents off when it’s so easy to do so?

This week, GEMS chairman Sunny Varkey has stirred the pot a bit more by saying that parents have no right to complain about fees if they choose a high school they cannot afford.

His exact comment, to Gulf Business, was this: “If you put your children in a school that you can’t afford then you can’t grumble…You understand what I’m saying? You must choose a school that you can afford.”

As it turns out, I somewhat agree with Varkey. Dubai has several financial models for schools, and parents should choose the one they can afford, not the one they wish they could afford. It’s why I don’t drive a Bentley, much as I would like to.

But I would say this – Varkey is one step ahead of the argument. The problem is not choosing the school you can afford, but actually getting a place in the first instance. As my earlier column highlighted, schools charge AED500 purely to register a child. They keep that money, regardless of whether a child gets a place or not.

After my original column, I met with many school bosses, all of whom claimed this practice would soon be stopped. It hasn’t. I know education is a business, but this is theft.

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Posted by: GEMS - UAE's biggest rip off

Well this is no surprise coming from GEMS -the biggest school rip off racket in the UAE. just check out Varkey's diamond watch in the photo! that's where your fees are going.
GEMS- average education, average teachers, close the school with zero notice, teacher training days during term time (1 per month), dressing up days instead of education. They don't care about the kids and are arrogant enough to show it straight, just their profits. We are all in business, GEMS- don't make the mistake thinking we are not.
Our kid is leaving Royal Dubai end of this year. The Head's attitude stinks....or is that 'CEO'....a Principle who calls himself CEO isn't thinking of the kids or his customers first...they cancelled sports day last week on a SUNNY day because 'the previous days rain caused a H&S issue for the staff'...

Posted by: nil

Agree , this is obviously a theft/greediness. We experience it when we enquired to enroll our 2 kids some school are inconsiderate some "big" schools do this. They will not return or offset the money in the tuition fee.

Posted by: Taru

I want to ask Mr varkey one question, I put my child in your school as I thought I can afford the fees but after two years You increase the fees 10-15% per year and that I just can not afford as my income has not increased even 5% in two years. Now you tell that I have to go to another school that I can afford, what about the child' psyche who will miss all his friends and other things just because his father could not afford? are we are teaching the children what is right for their age? and you say parents should not moan?

Posted by: Ahmed Ali

GEMS is a For Profit organisation. If they can supply one teacher per 36 student in a school that has a waiting list, why not? GEM is there to maximise profits which means sacrifice of any quality if the demand is there.

Reminds me of the UK/EU scandal of Horse Meat in place of Beef. Horse was cheaper, demand was there for the product, profits were achieved. Everyone (except the horses) where happy.

Remember the old saying in UAE - "if you dont like it, leave"

Posted by: kingkaiser

Ahmed, do you recall how the horsemeat scandal ended? Clearly, not everyone was happy.

Posted by: Neil

It is not rocket science, the government should bring more competition into the market, it might be worth doing it themselves ala Jumeriah Hotels etc.

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