Outsourcing of school transport has been a trend over the last couple years, resulting in better service in some cases but a drastic increase in transport expenses in almost all cases.
Parents of students who go to schools that have outsourced transport services in the last couple of years complain that they have had to shell out more than double what they used to pay for transport before outsourcing started.
“ When we complain to the school, they always have a standard answer that they don't have any say in the matter since the service is outsourced ”
Anjana, mother of a student
Generally, school fees, including tuition and transport expenses are controlled by education authorities in all emirates, however, when the transport services were outsourced, parents were left at the mercy of the operators.
In transport services provided by schools, fees range from Dh1,500 to Dh6,000 per year depending on the distance between the school and pupils' area of residence.
However, when the service were outsourced the fee has shot up drastically to between Dh6,000 and Dh12,000.
From Dh150 a month to Dh380
"I used to pay Dh150 per month for my child's school transport and then one day I get a circular from the school saying that transport service has been outsourced and that the fee has been doubled to Dh300 and it has now increased to Dh380 per month," said Abdul Kader, whose son is a class 10 student in Our Own School Al Warqa.
Echoing Kader's sentiment is Anjana, who claims that the outsourced transport provider at her daughter's school has hiked the fees almost every term in the last three years.
"When we complain to the school, they always have a standard answer that they don't have any say in the matter since the service is outsourced," said Anjana
In Dubai, the trend started around four years ago, when all schools managed by a major group opted to outsource the transport services to School Transport Services, a firm which is commonly known as a sister concern of the group.
"We opted to outsource the services a couple of years ago as we realised that outsourcing to a specialised company is better since they are more experienced in providing the services. It also saves us from distraction and helps us focus all our efforts and energy in improving the quality of education in school," said a spokesperson of Raffles International school.
However, some schools that are against the concept.
Vandana Marwah, the principal of Delhi Private School (DPS) Sharjah believes outsourcing is unethical and schools should either maintain their own transport services or ask parents to do it.
"Maintaining in-house school transport may not be commercially viable, but it is a responsibility of the school. Schools should not look to earn profit in every which way they can, besides I feel when you outsource there is no accountability," said Marwah, whose school has more than 100 buses.