x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New school fees framework on the agenda

Parents will have a say in the school fees they pay under new framework being developed by education regulator.

DUBAI// Parents will have a say in the school fees they pay under a new framework being developed by Dubai's education regulator.

A recent survey sent by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has invited parents’ feedback to draft a long-term fee structure for private schools.

In a ruling by the executive council this year, all schools in the emirate were barred from raising their tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year. This was the second year in a row that Dubai school operators witnessed a fee freeze, after the KHDA said fee hikes were unjustifiable in the 2009 economic climate.

However, in a move that overruled the local authority, the Ministry of Education gave the two largest school operators, GEMS and Taaleem, the green light to increase fees by between 10 and 15 per cent. In the case of GEMS, annual fee increases of up to 10 per cent were approved for three years.

In a letter to parents, the KHDA said: "While the fee decision for the 2011-12 academic year has been announced, the KHDA is working on a long-term tuition fee framework.

“As part of the engagement process, KHDA requests your participation in a survey that is connected with factors relating to the fee framework. Your opinion is valuable and your voice counts.”

Questions being asked by the authority include parents’ reasons for choosing schools and what they would like in the future regulations.

Asma Mazhar, a parent who received the e-mail with a username and password to fill out the questionnaire, said she had made a couple of suggestions that would help ease the pressure on parents.

“I said it would be better if there was a monthly payment structure at schools,” she said.

“After all we receive a monthly salary right?”

She also said fee decisions should be taken based on the economic situation.

Other parents also say factors like quality of education and past fee increases at the school should be reviewed before any approval.

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, said it was hard to believe that their opinion would be taken into consideration.

“It has always been disregarded with some schools allowed to do as they wish in the past,” said the Indian parent.

“Why would it matter now? This will only hold value if KHDA sticks to their promise.”

In a survey by the ministry last year, more than half of parents paying for private schooling said they believed the fees were too high for the standards of education their children were receiving.

The authority has asked parents to complete the survey before May 16.

aahmed@thenational.ae