School closures threaten the national interest

There is an imperative that a nation of the UAE's quality provides for the children on its soil.

The stand-off between the UAE's largest school operator and Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) could cause a massive shortage of schools catering for the South Asian community. In short, it would be the children who would be the losers. That is unacceptable. Gems Education has come under fire in the past year for fee increases, with parents claiming school was becoming unaffordable. In turn, the KHDA capped school fees and tied increases to the quality of education. This is prudent, at least in principle.
The problem, of course, is how to measure quality. It would be impossible to expect a school charging Dh5,000 a year to offer the same education as one charging Dh50,000. Nor is it desirable that all schools raise fees to offer the best possible education. This would put education out of reach for thousands of families. In the UAE, it is especially difficult to balance this equation. Most children attend private institutions that, like Gems, would go out of business if they operated at a loss. But at the same time, schools have to be held to account both for rational fee structures and quality of education.
As the KHDA formulates a response to Gems's threat to close schools, it is obvious that only state regulatory authorities can assume this responsibility. And the next lesson: it is vital to the national interest that these educational quandaries are resolved. The reasons are moral, intellectual and practical all at the same time. There is an imperative that a nation of the UAE's quality provides for children on its soil; if their education is neglected, an entire generation of productivity and development are lost.
More regulation of for-profit schools, even if they complain, is obviously needed. While the Government cannot assume the entire costs of education in a tax-free society, there are measures that could ease the financial pressures. Land subsidies, which would address runaway campus rents that are the single biggest factor behind fee increases, could be part of the solution. And lastly, companies that employ expatriates have to be more accountable for this crucial aspect of their employees' lives.
"Our schools have been driven to breaking point," wrote Gems chairman Sunny Varkey. We are confident that his business and the KHDA can come to an understanding to avert that eventuality. But more than crisis negotiations over fee increases are needed for lasting solutions in the troubled educational sector. The first step has to be both schools and authorities recognising their shared interest in reforming the system.

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic