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Vox populi: The voice of the people
Parents of the Dubai Modern High School are angry with the school management for increasing the fee structure. And they are expressing it.
February 11, 2009 1:22 by Aarti Nagraj
It was a very different press conference. There was lots of people, lots of clapping, lots of anger, and lots of hope. The place was emotionally charged.
The conference was organized by the parents of students at the Dubai Modern High School, who object to the 90 percent fee hike that the school is planning to impose in the next two years.
The parents had invited representatives from the Global Enterprise Management Systems (GEMS) management team, which runs the school, the Ruler’s Office, Ministry of Education, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which monitors private and public education in the emirate and from the Indian Consulate and Embassy.
The seats for all these representatives, however, remained empty.
The basic problem: The school is shifting to a new bigger campus in Nad Al Sheba, for which they have imposed a tuition fee hike of 90 percent. Previously, the cumulative increase over a course of two years amounted to 110 percent. Tthe school’s management revised the fee increase as follows: 45 percent for the 2009-2010 academic year, and 31 percent cumulative increase the following year, amounting to a 90 percent hike in total.
Parents say the increase is too steep, that it should be spread over a longer period of time, and that they got the notification too late to even change schools. And this being the only school in Dubai offering the ICSE curriculum of education, many parents say that they do no have the option of enrolling older students in other schools.
Furthermore, the new campus is not yet ready, and since the school is supposed to be shifting there in April this year, parents are worried about the health implications of moving into a building while construction may still be going on.
The parents have already held silent gatherings at the school premises and collected signature campaigns to further their cause. They say they have tried talking to the school authorities several times, but have not received a positive response from them.
They have started a blog, conducted a survey of around 900 parents concluding that 98 percent of them are against the hike, and even considered opening a new ICSE school themselves.
As any journalist who has worked in India will agree, protests in that country are almost a daily phenomenon: it could be nurses, bus drivers, lawyers, doctors, literally anybody and everybody demanding something. The idea is to somehow make their voice heard.
And while the parents’ reaction cannot be called a protest, they have managed to mobilize a great deal of support among themselves, and have also captured the attention of the media.
Their voice may be getting heard, but what if all of this does not work out? What if the school still refuses to decrease the hike?
“We just want to set an example for others,” says Dipan Mehta, one of the spokespersons for the parents’ group. “We want to show that we as parents are not going to take this lying down.”