School will have to Comply with KHDA’s Tuition Fee Decision

Afshan Ahmed
Filed on March 5, 2009

DUBAI - Dubai’s education authority, on Tuesday, firmly refused an arbitrary increase in tuition fees by Dubai Modern High School if it decided to stay on in the current premises.

In a circular sent to parents on Monday by Gems Education, parents were asked whether they wanted the school to remain on the current site at a higher fee. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) which supervises education in Dubai, said it was aware of the circular sent out by Dubai Modern High School (DMHS).

“The circular seeks to gather parental support for increases in school fees (of 25 per cent in the upcoming academic year and 16 per cent in the next year) in order to continue staying at their current premises. Dubai Modern High School has not received any approval from KHDA on this,” said Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Licensing and Customer Relations at KHDA.

In a statement sent to Khaleej Times, a spokeswoman of Gems said they are engaged with the KHDA in regard to the fee increase for the stay at the existing site, “but nothing has been finalised yet,” she added.

KHDA’s verdict follows the Gems management’s sudden decision on Monday to provide an alternative to already traumatised parents who have been seeking a reversal of the fee hike communicated by the schoolin January.

Parents met with the Gems senior management on Tuesday and the possibility of staying on at a fee increase of 25 per cent and 16 per cent over two years or shifting to a new premise at a fee increase of 90 per cent was discussed.

“Both Gems and the parents were left with a clearer understanding of each other’s position. We will now examine some of the options discussed in more depth and, with the support of parents explore further the possibility of staying on the existing site,” said a spokesperson from Gems and a letter to the parents signed by Darryl Bloud, principal of the school.

Parents were told that Gems will negotiate with the landlord to extend the lease on the current premise. The current tenancy contract ends in April due to which the new premise at Nad Al Sheba was sought.

“We were told that there will be a renegotiation with the landlord after which parents will be informed about the situation and the fee increase. However, we were also told that the period of the lease would be uncertain,” said Irwin Pinto, a parent committee member present at the morning’s meeting with the management.

The Gems spokeswoman further stated that they had just re-engaged with the landlord, an option that was not available till a few days ago.

“There has been a worsening of the economic climate and we have over the last few days been able to receive support from the authorities to re-approach the landlord regarding an extension of the lease agreement. We have just started the negotiation process,” she said.

KHDA has confirmed to the Gems management that after talks with the landlord, if they continue at the present premises, KHDA’s school fee decision will apply to them.

“They will be treated on par with every other private school. Any negotiations for the land rent increases for the present premises may be subject to the final decisions by the relevant government authorities. This rent increase cannot be passed on to the parents,” said Darwish.

Two Options for Gems

THE Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has put forth two options for Gems under the current circumstance.

Gems has been asked to continue on its present premises at the present fee structure until they move to the new premises in Nad Al Sheba where they can apply the new permitted increase of 90 per cent over two years or stay on at the present premises and be subject to KHDA’s school fee decision that will be applicable to all private schools and will be announced shortly by the authority.

Sunny Varkey, Chairman of Gems told Khaleej Times that if a fee increase at the current premise is not approved then they will move to the new premise as planned. “We will have to shift to the new school premise in April,” he said.

On the other hand, Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Licensing and Customer Relations at KHDA, mentioned doubts about the date of relocation in his statement. “The decision to move to the new premises will be at the discretion of KHDA after a final inspection of the premises.

“We are quite doubtful if the new premises will be ready for use by April 5, 2009 when the new academic year begins.”

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