AMMAN - Parents have been demanding that private schools reduce their fees for the second semester due to the coronavirus crisis, which has replaced classrooms with online classes.
Bashar Haddad, a parent and the founder of the Parents' Coalition, started a petition that now has more than 9,000 signatures, asking Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to issue a defence order that stipulates the reduction of private school fees for the second semester.
Haddad added that “not only have the hours of learning been reduced from a full day to a few hours, but other fees that can only be charged when the students are physically present in the school should be eliminated too.”
School bus fees, extracurricular activity fees, cafeteria charges and operational costs were included in Haddad’s list of absent elements in the online learning experience.
The online petition was not the only channel through which parents expressed their demands for installment reductions.
“Private schools must make discounts on the current semester’s installment as well as recover part of the amount paid for the school bus service,” said Mohammad Awn, a parent of two, in a Facebook post with hundreds of interactions.
Nora Araj, another parent, commented on the post by saying she was “surprised by a letter from the school administration demanding that the remaining financial dues for the current school year be paid in full, especially that the online learning experience has not been half as good as traditional education.”
A survey conducted by Haddad showed that 66 per cent of parents are not satisfied with the full payment of the school installment and are awaiting a government decision that obliges schools to give parents discounts on the current school year.
Another 8 per cent of parents have submitted written complaints to school administrations.
Head of the Private Schools Owners Association, Munther Sourani said in a statement that “private schools are facing a great problem”, as access to financial facilities provided by the Central Bank has a condition of exempting students from all transport expenses and unused facilities during the breakdown period, in addition to providing a month discount for tuition fees from the current school year.
Sourani noted that “some schools suffer from financial troubles, so the Ministry of Education should have met with us before agreeing to these conditions.”
He also said that reducing fees and returning bus fees is a “rejected and unacceptable demand because the educational process did not stop throughout the lockdown, in fact, it has been more of a burden to train teachers on new technologies and ensure the continuation of the learning process”.
Since schools were suspended on March 15, Sourani claimed that “the operating costs incurred by schools were not reduced in the way that some imagine, so schools still bear a large part of the burden of these costs, including teachers’ salaries that have not been suspended since the educational process is continuous and neither have the rents of school buildings, buses and income taxes.”
He concluded his statement by saying that the schools are now “facing a real problem regarding teachers’ salaries for the month of April, May and June.”
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