Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Coronavirus: more Dubai pupils move to affordable schools as families revise budgets

Education analysts say many parents will look at moving their children to affordable mid-tier schools after the summer holidays

Pupils in Dubai are expected to return to classrooms in September. Navin Khianey / The National
Pupils in Dubai are expected to return to classrooms in September. Navin Khianey / The National

Enrollments are up at affordable schools in Dubai as parents opt for quality experience at lower tuition fees.

Mid and low-tier schools in the emirate have reported an increase in new admissions and enquiries from parents.

Shiny Davison, director of learning at Gulf Model School in Dubai, said the number of pupils have gone up to 2,400 this month from 2,300 in the last academic year.

The school fees ranges from Dh3,600 a year for kindergarten to Dh6,600 annually for grade 12 pupils.

“We have seen an increase in requests for admission, but it is important for us to maintain standards. Every week, we get 25 to 30 enquiries and most of the parents have moved from a higher-fee school," said Ms Davison.

“We are an affordable school with low fees but we are getting a good number of admissions."

She said families are reviewing their budgets due to job losses and paycuts, and are taking a call to move their children to schools that charge lower fees.

Education analysts in the UAE predicted many parents would look at moving their children to affordable mid-tier schools after the summer holidays.

Everybody is being careful and conscious about money and by that logic, people will look for schools that are affordable and give the best quality education

Rashmi Nandkeolyar

Maya El Hachem, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, said the fact that the sporting facilities and other assets of schools may remain closed would be a factor in many parents making the move away from schools with higher fee structures.

“Parents will want to move [their children] to affordable schools," said Ms El Hachem.

At Delhi Private School in Dubai, the fees range from Dh10,000 to Dh14,416 annually, and 150 pupils have enrolled since March.

The school has been awarded a ‘Very Good’ rating by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai's private school regulator.

The school had more than 3,600 pupils in the last academic term but now has 3,848 children on its roll.

"We could attribute this to various reasons including our affordable structure. I would like to think it is because of our reputation for excellent education at affordable prices," said Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal of Delhi Private School Dubai.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal at Delhi Private School, said 150 pupils have enrolled since March. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal at Delhi Private School, said 150 pupils have enrolled since March. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“Everybody is being careful and conscious about money and by that logic, people will look for schools that are affordable and give the best quality education.”

In 2019, Coded Minds, a Dubai-based education technology firm, launched Hope Academy, a project that provides a safety net to children who have dropped out of mainstream schooling.

Hope Academy has enrolled 200 pupils in the last two months and now has 1,000 children.

"We are hoping to have 5,000 pupils by the end of the year," said Omar Farooqui, founder of Coded Minds.

“Our tuition is low and we give the option to pay every month, so some parents pay [as low as] Dh83 a month, giving them a flexible option."

The institute has three tiers. Hope Basic offers classes in maths and English at Dh500 for the year and Hope Core, which has lessons in math, English, science and technology costs parents Dh1,000 annually.

Hope Plus has the four core subjects as well as languages, history, liberal arts and computer science at a fee of Dh3,500 for the year.

Classes were delivered in-person in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman but lessons moved online after the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Ahmed, a father of two who works in the events industry in Dubai, struggled with paying school fees when he was asked to go on unpaid leave until September.

His daughter aged seven, and son aged nine, moved to Dubai in February and he enrolled them at Hope Academy.

"The fees is around Dh1,000 for the year whereas any other school will charge me Dh7,000 and transport will cost me another Dh4,000," said Mr Ahmed, from Pakistan.

"I did not know about Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but I am glad my children are learning. They learn through online videos."

Mr Ahmed said many of his peers were thinking of reducing expenditure on tuition fees after having lost their jobs.

Gems Founders are the group's flagship affordable schools, with fees ranging from Dh23,000 to Dh33,000 for a UK curriculum education.

“The affordability of the model has seen a significant number of newly enrolled pupils in September 2020 across both schools,” said Matthew Burfield, principal of the Gems Founders Brand.

“Gems Founders School in Al Barsha reached capacity at 4,260 in September 2019 and is continuing to hold these numbers for the new academic year with a significant waitlist."

Updated: June 17, 2020 06:33 PM

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