Students find themselves stuck in limbo if private school tuition goes unpaid

Private School
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AMMAN — “It is time to transfer my children from this school to another school, but their current school refuses to hand over their academic record,” Osama Najeeb told Jordan News.اضافة اعلان

He has two children attending a private school, but says the school is “withholding their records” until he has paid outstanding tuition fees.

Najeeb says he is not alone, and that other parents are also being prevented from transferring their students.

An Amman private school principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that “many private schools tend to hold students' records in case parents are late in paying,” noting that her school relies on a signed promise of payment instead.

“It doesn’t make sense to deprive a student of their right to transfer schools,” she underlined.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated parents’ inability to pay; a point Najeeb stressed.

He explained that before the pandemic, he was able to cover his children’s tuition, but that has now “become more difficult”.

Particularly “during this period”, he does not have the ability to pay the installments to his children’s private school.

The principal echoed his worries.

“I have a family, and I know the difficult conditions that Jordanian families are going through after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has harmed everyone without exception.”

In an official statement, Director of the Private Education Department at the Ministry of Education Fayez Al-Maarif, on Monday said that private schools, in the event of a parent’s nonpayment, have legal recourse.

Firstly, the school can take the parent to court for nonpayment.

Secondly, the school can refuse to reregister the student for the following academic year, provided they inform the student’s legal guardian and the Education Ministry four months in advance.

Article 12b of the Regulations for Establishing and Licensing Private and International Educational Institutions No.

130 of 2015 explicitly says “The educational institution shall not withhold the academic record of any student or deprive him or her from education during the school year. ...”

Maarif stressed that should a private school do this, guardians can file a lawsuit, in which the school would have to pay “a fine of JD10,000–100,000,” should they be found guilty.

The director underlined that if a private educational institution commits such a violation, guardians can turn to the ministry to avoid disrupting their children’s education by bringing the letter of acceptance from the school they want to transfer to and sending it to the Private Education Department.

They will then be provided with the documents necessary for their children’s transfer.

When Jordan News asked Najeeb whether he had tried to file a complaint, he said he had tried to coordinate with other parents to object to the school administration, but that they had not thought of “submitting an official complaint to a government agency,” despite knowing that withholding students’ files and records is prohibited.
In a telephone interview with Jordan News, Munther Al-Sourani, head of the Private School Owners Association, said that when they turn to the Education Ministry they “see that it does not have real solutions. ... Its solutions always stand with the student at the expense of private schools.”

Sourani went on: “It is time for the Ministry of Education to stop marginalizing private schools and portraying them as a weak sector.”

He explained that tuition goes towards paying the school’s bills, taxes, and salaries.

Parents know that private schools have paid education, and that the school has the right to “demand its dues and find a means of pressure to protect its rights. If the guardian cannot pay, they should send their children to a public school.”

Furthermore, regarding the ministry’s statement on schools’ legal recourse, Sourani said that “it is unreasonable for all private schools to go to the courts” or seize a guardian’s assets.

“As for the fines of up to JD100,000, this is a large sum,” the syndicate head said. “Why is it permissible for them to do what we are not allowed? This is illogical.”

Najeeb, when asked about Sourani’s comments, said that he has no desire for the school to give up its rights, but that “I was expecting more consideration for the financial situation that has impacted all of us during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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