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We want fair fee settlement: parents

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Private schools taking advantage of MoE’s decision on ‘e-learning’

KUWAIT CITY, April 12: It is unfortunate that some schools in the private sector are taking advantage of the decision of Ministry of Education concerning e-learning (distance education) for purely commercial interests without caring for the interests of students which should be top priority in this regard. In a press statement, Lawyer Nasser Al-Bashir said decision No. 60/2060 dated 4/4/2020 issued by the Minister of Education Dr. Saud Al-Harbi concerning e-learning platforms has left parents with having to choose between it and the traditional learning, which will resume on Aug 4 and held for a maximum period of six weeks.

He said, “On the contrary, some of these schools have forced parents to choose e-learning, preferring it over the second option, which is a compressed study for six weeks due to start from Aug 4, 2020, in a hideous and reprehensible way by dedicating most of the facilities for the first option and adding many complications for the second option (compact study according to article three of the same decision).

Lawyer Al-Bashir concluded that it is not logical and acceptable for the fees to be equal for these two options compared to the fees originally prescribed under normal conditions when a full semester is approximately four and a half months.

He insisted that, “The school fees should be reduced due to decrease in the operational fees of the facilities (schools) in both options.” The parents of private schools’ students are seeking Ministry of Education’s intervention in the issue of fees of private schools, appealing it to set a fair approximate percentage of the fees imposed on them in light of the changes in the educational process and the accompanying decrease in the actual operational costs due to implementation of “distance education”, and force these schools to return part of the fees to the parents, reports Al-Rai daily.

They hinted their intention to sign a petition in this regard and submit it to the ministry. The parents said they believe the schools would decrease their operating costs significantly between the 20-week plan for the second semester – which was part of the operational plan for schools – and the six-week plan set by Ministry of Education, in addition to the six weeks that the students studied before the crisis,.

This is especially considering the fact that distance education efforts will not cost the same as teaching in classrooms. They stressed the need for reducing the school fees and ensuring justice based on the aforementioned facts, appealing to Ministry of Education to issue an official decision requiring private schools to return part of the registration fees for the second semester.

The parents explained that the high school registration fees were supposed to cover everything that would provide an integrated educational experience, starting with the use and maintenance of facilities and classes, salaries of teachers and employees, electricity and water costs, and meals, and ending with additional activities for a full 20 weeks. Since the schools closed after just six weeks of the semester, the remainder of this period would not cost the schools the same operational cost.

They indicated that they will submit their petition to the ministry on Thursday, stressing that some private schools have started asking parents to sign a document for accepting the shift to distance education system. They insisted that every parent must know their financial rights before signing such a document.

In the petition, the parents wrote, “We are aware of the current situation that the state is going through and the subsequent closure of schools due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate the rapid response and exceptional efforts exerted by private schools in providing e-learning platforms to cover the curriculum for this year. However, we cannot overlook the limitations of distance education in terms of providing the same educational benefit that the classrooms provide.

This makes the high cost of this type of service unjustified, especially under the current exceptional times. In addition, the organizational decision No. 1455/2020 issued by Ministry of Education stipulates that following-up the students’ performance for this academic year through distance education is optional for their guardians, with the commitment of the schools covered by this decision to provide a period not less than six weeks to complete the year for students whose parents do not wish to pursue distance education, without this affecting the continuation of these students for the new academic year with their peers.

Considering all that, the prescribed period, plus the first six weeks of the second semester of this year, is still not equal to the cost of 20 weeks that will be covered by the high fees. We ask Ministry of Education to determine a fair approximation of the fees, which will be in excess of the actual operating cost in light of distance education, for the schools to return to parents”.

Commenting on the contents of the petition, an official educational source said, “Distance education is a procedure carried out by distinguished private schools. Through this system, parents are provided with the opportunity for ensuring good academic achievement by their children. It is an optional process based on the desires of the students and their guardians. The schools will repeat the lessons, which were conducted online, during the month of August, and all students can enroll in formal studies, including online students. ”

He explained that, “Those who links the issue of fees to formal educational services are not obliged to use distance education system. They can wait until August to obtain direct services in exchange for the fees they paid, similar to government schools and private Arab schools. This is because foreign schools, when they launch formal and electronic education, will have left their responsibility from any legal procedures and the guardians are free to choose.”

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