It is ironical that the tuition fee at the Indian expatriate schools has remained high for many parents even though there has been a steady rise in the number of Indian schools in Qatar.
By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
Even though there has been a phenomenal rise in the number of Indian expatriate schools in Qatar in the last decade, many parents still seem to be far from being happy and they continue to nurse grievances over numerous issues faced by their wards.
The first and foremost complaint from parents is over the exorbitant tuition fees charged by some schools, notwithstanding the “not-so-good” quality of education catered by the institutions.
“Though a number of schools have come up in the expatriate community in the last one decade and more are still said to be in the offing, not many of them have stood out with any unique or exceptional coaching methods. The credit for most of the notable achievements of the students goes to private tuition that they have received elsewhere,” said a parent, who has his children studying in at least two of such new schools.
While there were four Indian schools and another school offering Indian stream in 2002, their number has risen to 11 now.
There are sections in the community which feel most of the new schools are catering only to the children of resourceful and upmarket sections, whose tuition fee is by and large borne by their employers whereas the children of less fortunate parents have no option other than three “mainstream” schools which were established before the mid-90s. “However, at least two of them are seemingly overcrowded and are unable to accommodate too many children from ordinary families,” said a former teacher.
Even while welcoming the reports of new schools being opened, some of the parents who spoke to this newspaper yesterday felt they were highly unlikely to be different from the other schools which were opened in the last one decade. “Though it is good indeed that more schools are established in the Indian expatriate community, it is doubtful if their arrival would help reduce the existing tuition fees in the existing schools,” said a parent, while appealing to the Supreme Education Council (SEC) to explore the possibility of fixing a uniform tuition fee for all new Indian schools, comparable with the existing fee at the first three schools in the community.
Some parents said they heaved a sigh of relief when the local educational authorities rejected outright the demands of some of the schools for a hike in tuition fee at the beginning of the new academic year. “Already the prevailing tuition fees at some of the schools are beyond the capacities of commoners and there was no justification whatsoever on their part to have sought permission for hiking tuition fees further,” said an Indian expatriate in a recent letter addressed to more than two newspapers in the country.
A section of parents also feels that the “unusual demand” for seats at some of the community schools is by and large a “stage-managed exercise” adopted by their operators every year. Experiences have found that even though such schools refuse to admit students when initial attempts are made, most of them have seemingly acceded to the requests from parents at a later stage.
Demands have also come up from the community members for the setting up of an exclusive Indian community school on the lines of those run by some other communities in Qatar, mainly under the supervision of their embassies.
“The Indian expatriate community has grown considerably in the last 10 years and it is high time a school is established under the aegis of the embassy,” said a long-time Indian resident in Doha. If the embassy could accord patronage to cultural centres and other organisations, why should it hesitate to seeking permission from the local authorities for setting up a school under its direct patronage?,” he asked.
Though the issue came up before the Indian embassy at one of its monthly community houses a few years ago, the mission officials refused to entertain discussions, citing numerous “technicalities” and “difficulties”. However, none of them could elaborate on the reported “hurdles” in starting a school.