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Mon 1 Jul 2013 09:15 AM

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UAE school fees are still a disgrace

Anil Bhoyrul believes registration fees demanded by schools are pure theft

UAE school fees are still a disgrace

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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Hussain Fahmy 7 years ago

The founding fathers of UAE would have never considered education as a profit making venture. The education system worldwide has increasingly become commercialised as a result the society expects their children to be passed out by a branded school in the hope that the child will be successful in the career market place. The parents are missing out on the quality of education, discipline and the environment that provides are more important in laying the foundation of a child than grading. The economic boom and talk of the merits of hard work have created an expectation to escape poverty. But these days higher education system only leads to jobs for a few, educating a new generation to unemployment and despair. How do you choose a college when 4 years of schooling costs 20 years of income? What is it like to join the “ant-tribe”, the millions of newly graduated who, every year can’t find work? Our education system teaches us to count, however they do not teach us what COUNTS.

Zuber Kazi 7 years ago

JPS run by Gems took 500x2 for my twins registration fee but never called them for assessment stating they are overbooked.

This is not theft but DAYLIGHT ROBBERY

KDW 7 years ago

Costs versus quality too - can only speak for UK Private education - where the fees are similar, but the quality world class - Dubai educational standards, are , at best 'adequate'.

Harvey 7 years ago

Actually, it's getting FAR worse - this year was the first year I was 'Forced' to pay AED3000 in advance for re-registration for my child so he could go into the next year in order to secure the place in a school he was already attending. You imagine, all parents having to do this and so it provides an immediate profit of AED9 Million on a typical 3000 student establishment some 4 months before school even starts and they haven't provided the service!

Glen 7 years ago

This is a simple case of "theft by false pretences" you give the parent hope and then you extract the ransom which is not used to pay for any admin time or other costs relating to evaluation of the studen. You will always be told that there is a waiting list but there is a good chance that your child will make it to getting a place.
Retail stores also have a way of falsely extracting money from the customer. On their sales they put a rack on display with an 80/- AED price tag, you choose your article take it to the checkout and are then asked for 110/- AED. They expect you never to ask what for and why the deception, but when you do they add a whole pack of lies to their response. Ironically when taking photographs of these labelled articles and explaing that the Consumer Council would know about it, the overcharged AED 30/- was speedily refunded.

Harvey 7 years ago

Hi Hussain, really appreciate that insight - it is so true.

Narayan 7 years ago

I agree with the statement, that parents should choose a school they can afford. But you and Mr. Varkey are missing a point here. How many schools are there in Dubai (or UAE) that can take in all the students whose parents are looking for affordable schools. The high end schools(as its known) dont provide or are not even close to the quality of education provided in other countries in comparison the the fee they charge

Honey Kumar 7 years ago

Sunny Varkey has not only stirred the argument but also somewhat insulted by using such harsh and aggressive lingo . He is a man who supposedly works on the education ( MONEY) system of UAE . There is a certain manner to address the issue and not lash out at parents because of which his schools run !

Gleb 7 years ago

well said, Hussian.

procan 7 years ago

Send your children to the west for education as so many have already done, and are currently doing. Allow them a real education. I guess the only problem I can see is getting them to return eh!