Editorial: Students’ future must be paramount

ABU DHABI, 14th February 2020 (WAM) - Pupils should not be penalised if parents fail to pay school fees, said the English language daily 'Gulf News' in a commentary today.

To what extent can a school go in taking measures against students whose fees are not paid up? There is hardly any ambiguity on this issue in the UAE as far as the rules go. Schools have the right to receive fees and when they don’t, they can withhold the results of the student’s final examination or the transfer letter till the dues are paid up but no school can disallow a student from completing their academic year or appearing for exams, and least of all, apply restraining measures of any kind on the student, as was the case on Tuesday when it was reported that a school in Dubai allegedly confined some students in the gym for non-payment of fees.

While the results of an investigation by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) will throw more light on what actually transpired, the report brings back into focus the issue of non-payment. And the most important factor that needs to be considered here is the cause of the non-payment. In many cases, it’s due to extenuating circumstances such as a job loss or a financial setback for the parents.

Already, many schools in Dubai have measures in place to mitigate the stress on parents who are struggling financially. Fee concessions, subsidised and extended plans of payment, charity initiatives, teachers sponsoring students and community help have all found a place in this context. The silver lining therefore is strong.

Also though there are no confirmed figures, the percentage of grievances from schools on non-payment is very small, according to reports. But the percentage being small is of no consolation. The fact is, no parent should be in a position to not be able to fund their child’s education. Equally, no parent wishes to deliberately subject their child to the negative pressures of being an outlier at school, that experts say has a psychologically damaging, and lasting, impact.

However, it also cannot be denied that schools face a formidable challenge in dealing with deferred or no payments, either due to parents’ changed financial situation or because the latter are habitual defaulters, as some schools reveal.

Schools and parents therefore should work towards connecting at a deeper level to look for resolutions on a case-by-case basis, keeping in mind the highest priority the student’s right to education and a bright future.


WAM/Hassan Bashir