Dubai Parents and schools managements have taken opposing stands a day after the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced a new school fee framework, allowing three to six per cent rises in fees this year.
While understandably, most parents are furious over the increase, school managements are divided over the issue.
"The fee hike announcement is really heartbreaking", Shezneen, a reader, posted online. "Middle income families are affected most by it. With this hike there will be no savings for our future," she said, adding that the education provided by the schools is not up to the mark compared to the increase in fees.
"There is no justification for this increase," said a parent, who declined to be named. "Quality of education in Dubai schools is very poor. KHDA's assessment parameters never bring in any real quality inputs for betterment, except that schools are allowed fee hikes based on its recommendations," he said.
"The school fees increase by 10 to 15 per cent every year in Gems managed schools, while the salary paid to teachers continues to be very poor," claimed another parent. "Three teachers resigned in just one academic year affecting students performance at one of their schools."
According to Shabeer, who commented online, school inspection results should not be linked with fees, otherwise the management will put pressure on the students.
"How will the middle income group manage to pay? This will really be a big burden to the parents," said another parent.
"Teachers are paid low salaries. No matter how good the infrastructure is developed from this hike, teachers are of prime importance," said Anil Ramachandran. "With no benefits for the teachers, the new framework is just a legal way to convert education from a service to a business," he said. "Teaching is a noble profession and motivated teachers make students excel and get good moral upbringing."
Speaking about the issue, the chief executive officer of one of the biggest schools in the country, the Indian High School, Dubai, said the fee scheme designed by KHDA was good as it was based on a scientific formula with no ambiguity in it. However, he declined to say whether the cap imposed was sufficient.
SSU Tabrez, principal of Emirates English Speaking School (EESS), said the increase was not enough. "At least an increase of 10per cent or more would have been helpful. Cost of all things has gone up. Not only the cost of school operations has increased but to improve facilities in schools and add new services we need finances and sufficient increase in fees would have been helpful."