By Bernd Debusmann Jr
GEMS Education has been under fire from parents for their handling of school fee issues amid the Covid-19 pandemic
GEMS Education is threatening to remove students from its distance learning programme if payments are not received by the middle of next week, Arabian Business has learned.
In a terse e-mail from GEMS sent to parents that has been seen by Arabian Business, GEMS said that “this is a final reminder to settle your child’s school fees. If payment has not been received by 12 PM on Tuesday, 21st April 2020, then we have no choice but to remove your child from access to our remote learning programme from Wednesday, April 22.”
Over the past several weeks, GEMS has been harshly criticised by parents for the company’s handling of fees during the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of April, GEMS Education said it will offer some parents discounts on school fees – but only after handing over details of their financial situation.
The latest email gives a contact for parents to reach out to in the event that they may be eligible for the relief measures.
GEMS’ handling of fees amid the pandemic has been harshly criticised by parents, who believe the company is not doing enough to alleviate what some have terms “rising agony”.
Over 15,000 parents have signed an online petition calling for a minimum 30 percent fee reduction for the third term, in which students will remain at home ‘e-learning’ rather than in classrooms.
Some parents have characterised the distance learning programme as “unorganised and inadequate.”
In a letter sent to Arabian Business on Wednesday, GEMS parents said they are “appalled” at their treatment from the education giant and the threats to withdraw children from the programme.
“The email…is less of a reminder and more of a legal notice or a threat of sorts,” the letter stated. “We cannot be dealt with this way for asking what we deserve.”
“We, at this point, are not caving in and we are only getting stronger in fighting for what we genuinely need,” the letter added.
When contacted by Arabian Business, a GEMS spokesperson stated that “the remote learning plans in place across GEMS Education schools ensure continuity of education during the current global pandemic, and students are required to attend their classes as they would under normal circumstances."
“Equally, in line with government regulations, to ensure students benefit from remote learning and progress to the next year or grade at the end of this academic year, tuition fees need to be paid in full,” the spokesperson said. “For anyone who has yet to settle the current term’s tuition, we therefore kindly ask that they do so as soon as possible.”
The spokesperson added that the relief measures are a “targeted approach” that allows the company to help families “most in need” and retain staff.
“We are committed to honouring our obligation to continue to pay teaching staff in full,” the spokesperson said. “With the full of parent feedback, we are also continuously looking at ways to improve and refine our e-learning programmes.”