Faced with an uncertain job market amid the coronavirus outbreak, parents in the UAE have asked schools to reduce tuition fees.
Lessons are being taught online as a result of social distancing measures introduced across the country.
An online campaign supported by about 12,000 parents seeks a partial tuition discount from Gems Education for the third term of this school year, which began on Sunday.
Nearly 700 parents of pupils at Nord Anglia International School Dubai have also asked for fees to be cut.
Jon, a British resident in Dubai, said his family was struggling to pay fees at Nord Anglia after their income was affected by the outbreak.
His daughter is in year five, but he said he would not enrol his son there in September.
“Remote learning is no better than classes you can sign up for with third parties," Jon said.
"Also, children have limited interaction with teachers.
“I think the school should get the parent association involved, have a sit down and come to a conclusion.”
Prakash Ivaturi, an Indian resident whose daughter is enrolled at a Gems school in Dubai, said schools should offer a 50 per cent discount.
He said he was due to pay Dh20,000 in tuition fees.
"I am looking at paying half of that," he said.
"I wrote to the school and told them our business has taken a hit and I would need assistance from the school at this time.
“I also wrote to authorities and was told that fees must be discussed between the parent and the school.
"The reality is that this is not enough. Everyone is taking a hit and schools need to show compassion.”
Another Indian resident, whose child who attends Gems Heritage Indian School, urged officials to help families.
“I work in a restaurant and our business is affected. I would request the school to help us with a discount,” he said.
“I am on a fixed salary and if I get some reduction in fees that will help.”
Schools that continue to charge full fees said they had to because their costs remained the same.
“We understand that some families may be in a difficult situation and that schools are expected to continue to operate and that fees need to be paid,” Matthew Farthing, principal at Nord Anglia International School Dubai, said in a letter to parents.
Last week, Innoventures Education announced it would offer personalised payment plans and defer fees for families who lost jobs, had salaries cut or were placed on unpaid leave due to the outbreak.
This is similar to the means test that Gems Education has offered to parents.
“The means-tested approach will allow us to allocate our relief efforts to those most in need during these unprecedented times, while retaining all of our teachers and managing our cost base,” said a Gems representative.
According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (Khda), the regulator for private schools in Dubai, parents can transfer their children to another school within the first three weeks of the third term.
If the current school is informed before the start of the term, which was on April 5, the parent is entitled to a full fee refund.
"If you tell them after the start of term, the refund you receive will be determined by the registrations and refund policy," as per the Khda website.
Schools and universities in the UAE closed in early March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and commenced distance learning on March 22.
Schools announce tuition fee cuts
• Tuition fee at Maple Bear School in Dubai has been reduced by 50 per cent
• Tuition fees has been reduced by 20 per cent at Horizon English School and Horizon International School
• Safa Community School has reduced fees for term 3 by 20 per cent
• The Next Generation School has offered 20 per cent discount on third term fees
• Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College have reduced their fees by 20 per cent
• Arcadia School in Dubai has also cut fees by 20 per cent
Taaleem, which operates 13 schools in the UAE, has also offered a 20 to 25 per cent fee reduction.
• 25 per cent cut in foundation and kindergartens
• 20 per cent cut in primary schools
• 20 per cent in secondary schools