Dubai-based GEMS Education has announced that it will offer tuition fee cuts ranging from 20 per cent to up to 50 per cent for families impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Parents who have experienced income reductions, lost their jobs or businesses, or been placed on unpaid leave will be offered the reduction on tuition fees for term three, a statement said.
“In all cases, the relief will be in excess of the typical blanket discounts offered by other UAE schools – typically 20 per cent and, in some cases of extreme hardship, discounts of 50 per cent or more,” it added.
Parents of more than 20,000 GEMS students will benefit from the move, the company stated.
The move comes even as parents of students attending many GEMS schools had planned to conduct a social media campaign on Friday, April 17 calling for “genuine and much-need support” from the management.
Dino Varkey, CEO at GEMS Education, said: “The relief package received thousands of applications from parents in just a matter of days, and GEMS Education teams have been working around the clock to process these in the shortest time possible and share with parents the level of tuition fee relief they will benefit from.
“We are directing assistance to parents who have lost a part of their income or their jobs entirely, as well as parents who are self-employed and have suffered business disruption. We firmly believe that this targeted approach is more equitable and effective in helping those who have been most impacted.”
The UAE’s Ministry of Education made the announcement to have an early spring break on March 8, closing schools for four weeks as part of precautionary measures against the Covid-19 virus.
A distance learning programme began on March 22, with over 1.2 million school and university students across the country joining their virtual classrooms.
On March 30, it was announced that the distance learning programme would be extended until the end of the current academic year.
The extension of e-learning prompted parents to seek relief related to school fees, with several schools across the country announcing fee waivers of around 20 per cent for the third term.
“The move to remote learning was unexpected and unprecedented – not only for the GEMS community, but for the majority of schools around the world,” said Varkey.
“Our teachers and education leaders are putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into providing the highest quality remote learning for all our students. Protecting our teaching and academic staff is critical to ensure that when we resume normal operations, our schools, our people and the quality of provision remain intact.
“All our teachers will continue to be paid in full,” he added.
Varkey also confirmed that in line with regulatory guidelines, tuition fees must be paid to ensure students continue to access remote learning and progress to the next year or grade.
GEMS Education owns and operates 66 schools with over 130,000 students across the MENA region.