Ministry move to defend right to education hailed

The education ministry has moved to prevent private schools from denying students from access to online learning for not paying tuition fees. (Photo: Freepik)
AMMAN — A government statement warning private schools against withholding access to online learning for students whose guardians have defaulted on tuition payments was received with support and relief. اضافة اعلان

The Monday statement issued by the Ministry of Education forbade private schools from blocking online learning platforms from students who have not paid tuition.

Legal proceedings for schools that violate this rule could vary from a warning to closure of the school, according to the statement.

The ministry has the power to refer any violating entities to the competent court, which can impose a fine between JD10,000 and JD100,000.

The statement specified that schools cannot withhold students’ files, access to tests and exams, or access to the online learning platforms if those students have not paid tuition. Jordan hosts around 3,600 private schools, according to a previous interview with Reem Aslan, gender technical specialist at the International Labor Organization.

 “Some private schools may block the distance education service” in order to pressure parents and guardians to pay tuition, said Maha Al-Khatib, principal of Al-Hikmeh Secondary School. However, she pointed out that this practice is forbidden by the MoE because “the student is not a party to financial matters between the school and the parent. And the guardian can file a complaint with the Private Education Department in the event the service is blocked.”

According to Khatib, schools can file lawsuits against parents and guardians to collect overdue payments, but this takes time — which may lead schools to resort to withholding online education “as a quick procedure to pressure the guardian.”

Ahmad, who attends a private school in Jordan, said that teachers in his school told students they would be banned from Microsoft Teams if they had not paid tuition for the previous year. Since the pandemic, all coursework is conducted using Microsoft Teams, the 12th-grader said, so this effectively bans students from attending lessons.

In an interview with Jordan News, he derided “the greed, the cruelty of the owners of private schools, their failure to take into account the situation, and the concern of the parents, in light of the current circumstances and the difficult living conditions that afflict most families in Jordan.”

“How do you deprive students in the last stages of their school of education?” he asked, adding that the quality of free public education has also declined.

MP Bilal Momany, head of the education committee at the Lower House, said that they have not received complaints about the blocking of online education platforms by private schools. “However, we support the Ministry’s decision because private schools don’t have the right to suspend online education for students, in a time when online platforms are the only mean of education nowadays,” he said in an interview with Jordan News.

“The financial rights of the schools and the student’s right to education should not be confused nor be correlated,” he said, echoing Khatib. “We realize the private schools are going through a difficult time but this should not affect the students’ right to education.”

Likewise, “If there is a problem with the tuition fees, it has nothing to do with the student,” said Dana Abu Qora, secretary general of the Islamic Educational College, which oversees eleven separate not-for-profit private schools. “No way on earth would we stop the online platforms for the students.” She explained that if families pay tuition, the school follows up administratively with the parents before possibly pursuing legal action — but never involves the students.

“The main mission for schools is to offer a quality education for the students,” she went on. “Blocking online tutoring or platforms from students I think is not aligned with the mission of teaching,” which she described as a “noble cause”.

She explained that although the pandemic has caused some families to struggle to pay for tuition, the school has adjusted to this by providing “flexibility” for families in need.