On March 8, all educational institutions in the UAE began an early start to their spring week as a four-week holiday was announced, part of the precautionary measures in the wake of the Covid-19 virus spread. A distance learning programme was also commissioned for students during the break.
On Sunday, March 30, the UAE extended the holiday break, and by extension, the distance learning programme. In light of the decision taken to safeguard public health, schools and parents continue to come to terms with what is expected to be a protracted e-learning season.
In the current environment of financial uncertainty, the extension of the remote learning programme has prompted parents to seek relief related to school fees.
Several schools across the country have responded to the situation by waiving tuition and transportation fees.
“The management at NGS has been receiving many concerns from families who are currently facing challenges due to salary cuts, unpaid leaves, or business not doing well. We have made the decision on March 30 to offer a 20 per cent discount on the last school tuition instalment due on April 1, 2020,” Aya Shiha, communications manager at Dubai-based Next Generation School told Gulf Business.
“For parents who have already paid the full fee, the amount will be transferred to the re-enrolment fee for next year. We have also received a lot of feedback from parents in regards to school transportation fees and we are currently working to remove the transportation fee for our families for the last term,” she added.
UAE-based Al Najah Education has also announced a 20 per cent reduction in school fees at its Jumeirah based schools, Horizon English School and Horizon International School, which will apply to all year groups for the third term of the 2019/2020 academic year.
Few schools such as GEMS Education have reportedly said it will offer discounts to parents subject to them submitting details of their ongoing financial situation.
Whether other schools choose to follow suit or not remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Dubai’s education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has clarified that schools are at liberty to offer a discount on school fees during the period of distance learning.
Schools may also change payment terms to suit parents’ needs, such as offering monthly payment options. Schools are expected to inform KHDA by emailing [email protected] if they choose either of these options.
“Parents must continue to pay school fees during the distance learning period. If they are experiencing financial hardship and cannot pay, we ask schools and parents to come together compassionately and to find a solution that is agreeable to both. Finding a compromise at this time is in everyone’s interest,” KHDA said on its website.
Meanwhile, the regulator clarified that all bus fees for Term 3 (Term 1 for Indian & Pakistani schools) must be refunded to parents.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in China late last year, the UAE has reported a total of 814 cases.