The 971 Report

More schools to go Dubai's Westminster way

More schools owned by the GEMS management that are charging lower annual fees than AED 15,000  are likely to be closed eventually, tabloid news weekly XPRESS reported citing Sunny Varkey, Chairman of GEMS Education.

The warning comes two days after he announced the closure of The Westminister School in Dubai by July 2014. The British curriculum school charges between AED6,000 and AED10,000 annually.

“It is impossible to run a good school with fees as low as AED6,000. If the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) does not allow us to restructure fees, no school charging fees below AED15,000 will survive in the UAE. In ten years they will all be gone,” Varkey was quoted by XPRESS as saying.

Our Own High School, Our Own Indian School and Our Own English High School are among several GEMS schools for which the annual fee is less than AED15,000.

But even as parents expressed shock at the sudden closure of the 5,000-student school, Varkey remained unfazed, the report said.

Varkey even hinted that other low-cost international schools such as Winchester and Al Khaleej Private School could face a similar fate, if KHDA did not review the fee cap for private schools, the XPRESS report said.

“For the last five years, we have been sustaining our old schools by compromising on quality. But we do not want to run bad schools. That is why we are forced to take tough decisions,” XPRESS quoted Varkey as saying.

The GEMS group is the single biggest private education company in the world with a network of schools in several countries. The group owns 37 schools in the UAE.

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