Call for stern action against 'unfair' UAE school fee hike

Call for stern action against unfair UAE school fee hike
Why can't seat reservation fees be refunded?

Abu Dhabi - Even banks are now sending out text messages for school loans, an FNC member said.

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

Published: Wed 12 Apr 2017, 7:48 PM

Private schools increasing fees without permission must face severe consequences, a Federal National Council member has argued.

"Parents in the UAE are carrying huge financial burdens due to exaggerated school fees, which do not match with the quality of education their children are currently receiving," Azza bin Suleiman, FNC member from Dubai, said on April 11 during the council session in Abu Dhabi.

Suleiman was raising a question to the Minister of Education about the whopping costs of private school fees in the UAE.

She pointed out that the ministry must create tighter limits when it comes to private schools raising fees, noting that fees are not only related to the yearly educational cost of a student, but also other hidden or additional costs that are not often looked at carefully, including the charges for school interviews and seat reservations.

"Parents are paying for their child's seat reservation, which is not even refundable."

"We can refund items we purchase from stores, but why can't seat reservations be refunded if the child doesn't enroll in the school?"

"You did not answer my question regarding this point," she said to Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the Minister of Education.

Al Hammadi said the ministry will form a committee, which will address the issues of private school fees, noting that Dubai already has a framework on how private schools can and cannot increase prices, which take various aspects into account, including consumer protection (parents and students), as well as the investment of schools.

"There is an authority that examines the details for each emirate and based on this, the authority accepts or rejects school fees," said Jameela Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education.

However, Suleiman argued that parents are continuing to pay staggering fees for schools, which do not have high ratings, and thus called for the ministry to put a limit on private school fees.

"The ministry needs to investigate schools with weak ratings and be more forceful with them. They must either stop increasing school fees, or fix their ratings and performances."

"Private schools are ridiculously increasing their fees, and most of the time, the education standards do not match with the prices parents are paying."

She stressed that school fees have become such a deep financial burden on parents across the UAE, that "even the banks are now sending out text messages for school loans".

"Schools raising fees illegitimately need to face fines and these fines need to be more forceful."

The Minister of Education said he does not understand the desire of parents sending their children to private schools, when public schools offer high quality education.

"I have enrolled my children in public schools."

He noted that a new model has been put in place this year for public schools across the country, which will challenge private schools.

"We want government schools to become better than private schools." 

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