x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

School offers parents good news

An Indian private school that enraged parents with plans to raise fees by 90% over two years now offers them some good news.

DUBAI // An Indian private school that has enraged parents with plans to raise fees by 90 per cent over two years last night offered them some good news. Parents of pupils at Dubai Modern High School, which is owned by Global Education Management Systems (Gems), have fought a public battle against the proposed fee rises, which the school maintained had been forced on it by a move to a new campus after the threat of eviction.

But last night an e-mail from the school told them there was a possibility the eviction could be revoked after "reconsideration by the landlord". Gems said a fee rise of 25 per cent for the coming academic year, which starts next month, and 16 per cent the next year would be necessary to cover rent increases - which it claims could be up to three times what it paid two years ago - and teachers' salaries.

Last night Gems called on parents to indicate whether they would agree to its latest proposal by clicking a "yes" or "no" option on the circular before 8am tomorrow. It said it hoped it could show the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which regulates school fees in Dubai, that most parents are in favour of paying the increase to stay at the current campus, and the authority would make a special case and approve the increase.

The e-mail said: "I would like to remind you that staying at the existing site is a possibility and a possibility only. It is contingent both on suitable KHDA approval and obtaining reasonable terms from the landlord. "The alternative is to continue our move to the Nad al Sheba site." A 14-strong parent committee, formed after the initial fee proposals, met last night to discuss the e-mail and how they should proceed.

One parent with two children at the school, who did not wish to be named, said while he considered the news a "moral victory" for parents, it might still not be good enough for some parents. "I personally would be happy, but is it good enough?" he asked. "Why 25 per cent if we are staying at the same premises and rents across the city are decreasing? They should be able to negotiate the rent down, not upwards.

"We have only been given two choices by the school - yes or no. Yes, we would like to continue and stay at the school, or no we would like to continue to move to Nad al Sheba and pay the 90 per cent. "There is no third option to stay at the school and not pay an increase." Another father with two children at the school questioned the need for a 25 per cent fee increase if it was remaining where it was.

"I appreciate there is an awareness and that Gems has started to move in the right direction, however this deal is not workable because they are asking 1,300 parents to make a decision by Wednesday," he said. "Parents need to consult their families, their companies, and it is a working week with many people travelling with their jobs." Gems was unavailable for comment last night. loatway@thenational.ae