Schools cannot force the parents to pay any fees in advance

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CORONAVIRUS IMPACT

The Licensing department of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has in the past week received parent complaints about several schools invoicing them now, in advance, for first term school fees payable in September 2009.

In 2011, Dubai’s Repton school has been granted a special approval to receive AED10,000 from parents, because it lacks liquidity to complete its facilities even in its fifth year of operations.

Several schools that begin their new academic year in September 2009 have asked parents to pay the first term school fees during this month or March while other schools have given the end of the current school year as the deadline for such a payment.

Puzzled parents have sent queries and complaints to KHDA wondering if this was allowed. KHDA’s Licensing department has replied to the parent queries and has taken up the issue with the respective schools.

As per Article 52.1 of the Private Education bylaw from the Ministry of Education this is illegal and not permissible. The article clearly states that schools can only collect school fees at the beginning of each semester or month and cannot force the parents to pay any fees in advance.

However schools seem to be invoicing the parents ahead of the new calendar year to address the issue they face of students switching schools and not returning after the summer break. As a result schools are unable to offer these vacant seats to other children on the waiting list as they have no confirmation from the children leaving.

To resolve this issue Article 52.2 allows the school to take a small deposit or registration fee. This deposit or registration fee should not be more than five per cent of the total fees with a maximum of AED500 per child. This means that a school can charge either five per cent of the school fees or AED500 – whichever is lower. This deposit is then subtracted from the school fees if the child returns, but is not refunded if the student does not join the school.

Some schools have also asked parents to pay a refundable cautionary deposit to cover any losses or damages incurred by the student.  Article 52.7 states that no school can collect a financial guarantee or financial deposit from parents.

Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Licensing and Customer Relations for KHDA, said: “Our laws are here to protect both parents and school owners and we expect everyone to respect and abide by them. We ask erring schools to set right the situation and inform the parents accordingly so that we can update their files at KHDA.”

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