KHDA washes its hands of Gems' transportation fee hike

DUBAI - The parents of some children studying in the Gems group of schools have called on Dubai's education authorities for help, claiming that their pleas to reduce the recently revised bus fee and a request for a joint meeting have fallen on deaf ears.

By Preeti Kannan (Our staff reporter)

Published: Tue 22 Jul 2008, 1:49 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:14 PM

However, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) yesterday said it was the school's choice to outsource its transportation services. Besides, the authority would not be able to facilitate any meetings between the school and the parents.

School authorities, on the other hand, also stated that there would be no rollback of the new transportation charges.

Middle class Indian parents approached the last week and lodged individual complaints against the school management following the latter's decision to outsource transportation.

Earlier this year, Gems decided to outsource the school bus service to Bright Bus Transport, citing spiralling fuel costs. The increased transportation fees in Gems' midmarket schools, mostly Indian curriculum, range from Dh200 to Dh270 from the earlier Dh120 to Dh180, while in the upmarket international schools, the fees gone up to Dh600-Dh800 from Dh350Dh400 earlier. The hike in the transportation fees in some of the midmarket schools like Our Own English High School, Our Own High School, Al Warqa, Our Own Indian School and Kindergarten Starters will be in at least three phases in the course of the next academic year.

In a written complaint to the KHDA's Administrative Services Unit, parents have expressed concerns at the "exorbitant increase" in transport

ation fees and the safety of their wards. "Till date, Gems has not called (us) for any joint meeting with parents and school authorities," a parent, Gopakumar Menon, stated in his complaint.

Another parent said, "We have been asking the schools to arrange a meeting with the parents. However, they have not responded to our repeated requests," he said.

In June, some parents had even started an online campaign opposing these changes to be implemented in the schools by August 31.

Confirming receiving the complaints, KHDA officials said, "The authority has replied to these parents explaining that since transportation is not mandatory, the school had the option of outsourcing this service to an independent service provider. It is not within KHDA's jurisdiction to facilitate meetings between the parents and the management for a service that is now the responsibility of a third party. The authority added that it had received very few complaints from the parents and this was hardly a significant number when compared to 150,000 students in the Gems schools."

Col Augustine, director of Administration and Education Secretariat of Gems, said, "We have addressed all concerns of parents who had complaints. Over 17,000 of the 30,000 parents have already signed up for the services and given their consent."

Referring to any reduction in the newly revised transportation rates, he said, "There will be no rollback. It will not be possible to reduce the fees in any way considering the rising fuel costs and scarcity of bus drivers available in the market. We are also upgrading the safety standards in our buses, introducing seat belts, deploying transport inspectors to monitor bus drivers and bringing in more professionalism."

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