With chances of revoking the bus fee hike turning slim, parents of students attending Delhi Private School (DPS) in The Gardens are now considering using private transport operators.
“I used to pay Dh1,100 a year towards school bus, and now I have to pay Dh2,500,” said a parent living near Ibn Batutta Mall.
The cause is DPS' decision to outsource school transportation to a private firm.
Pro-vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the three DPS campuses in the UAE, Dinesh Kothari, told Emirates24|7 that the decision to hand over responsibility to a private bus company was because they want to focus on providing quality education.
“The break-down will only be around Dh100-150 per month. And, that’s not much if parents realise it’s going towards improving the education provided for their children.”
He added that they approved the costing decided by the company because it was justified. “When we were handling the transportation, it was bleeding us, and impacting our human resources. I had to hold back work on IT department due to it. But, now, we can focus on what we do best.”
A group of 159 parents have come together to sign a 11-page petition opposing the bus fee hike for the new academic year, stating it was unjustified and at short notice, and are urging the school to revoke the fee hike.
Several parents are unwilling to shell out more, and are now shopping around for alternate, low-cost transportation for their children.
Social media has been abuzz for days with parents exchanging notes from private companies, and planning new bus routes.
RTA Safety Rules
“I don’t know if this is a safe option?” voiced a concerned parent.
According to the regulations set by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), vehicles used to ferry students must have a special permit. Parents must be aware that the companies they approach must be in compliance with the guidelines set by the RTA.
Some parents are even considering using the Metro or carpooling to avoid shelling out more.
After DPS Gardens Principal met a few parents on Monday, another meeting with the management is scheduled for today. She, however, told parents that a rollback was unlikely.
The parents have kicked-off a social media page on Facebook titled – “DPS Parents – Petition Against Fee Hike”, in which 627 have signed up.
The decision to revise the fee was taken after the school outsourced the duties to Al Saraya Bus rentals.
This was communicated to the parents through a letter signed by the principal on March 12. And the request for the payment made for March 17.
“This is very short notice, and not all of us can afford this increase. We need time to plan,” said another parent on condition of anonymity. “It impacts families with two or more children.”
Not all parents have the option of alternate transportation. “I will have to use the school bus. I have no other option. The area we live in isn’t linked well,” said a parent.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has graded the school ‘good’ in this year’s school inspection.
DPS Pro-vice-Chairman and Managing Director Kothari will be meeting the parent community today. “I would ask them not to look at the problem in isolation. If they look around, they will see that our tuition fees are affordable compared to the new CBSE schools. Even our transport fees was low, but it was costing us, and we had to take a call.”
He said that the company will link all 80 school buses to the school’s GPS tracking system. “There will be increased safety, and we will be able to track the movement of the buses at all times.”
Parents of students in DPS, Sharjah share concerns The situation is similar in the Sharjah campus of DPS, with parents joining forces to oppose the bus fee hike.
“I was paying Dh700 earlier, but now will have to pay Dh1,400,” a parent (requesting anonymity) told Emirates24|7.
She claimed that the school had not sent any official notification stating the increase. “I found out the day I went to pay my children’s school fees.”
She said she consulted other parents and learnt that a group of parents were still trying to finalise a meeting with the school Principal.
The parent community also took to Facebook - page titled “DPS Sharjah fee hike”.
The most recent post read a note from the principal stating that the decisions were made “in the best interest of the students”.
It reads: “This year we have outsourced our transportation, a conscious decision taken by the management to enable more professional handling by experts and to ensure high level of safety and comfort to our students.
“DPS Sharjah will work in tandem with them and assist them in their effort. This year we have also proposed a minimal fee increase of Dh150 to 200 per month. This will encourage us to continue to develop the school further and provide improved facilities.”