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Coronavirus: Parents in UAE 'disappointed' over lack of refunds for cancelled board exams - News - Gulflance

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Home » Coronavirus: Parents in UAE ‘disappointed’ over lack of refunds for cancelled board exams – News
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Coronavirus: Parents in UAE ‘disappointed’ over lack of refunds for cancelled board exams – News

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Mona Sen, whose son is a Year 13 student at a British curriculum school in Dubai, said she had already paid almost Dh2,500 in board exam fees.

Several UAE parents have been calling for refunds of costly board exam fees with the cancellation of tests because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, external exam boards have not shown any indication that the charges will be reversed.

Instead of sitting for the exams that were supposed to be conducted this summer, schoolchildren shall be assessed through their overall performance during the academic year, parents were told.

Mona Sen, whose son is a Year 13 student at a British curriculum school in Dubai, said she had already paid almost Dh2,500 in board exam fees.

“Students were later informed that all GCSEs and A-level exams will be cancelled this summer, with predicted grades awarded instead. But nobody is in a mood to refund the fees for the cancelled board exams. This is quite unfair, considering parents are facing pay cuts and job losses.”

Another parent, who refused to be identified, said: “Even if the board and the school cannot pay back the whole amount as some sort of assessments will still be done, a partial refund is what they should have definitely considered.”

‘Full fees remain’

Without changes in the examining boards’ charges, some school operators said they were “left with no other choice” but to pass on the fees to parents.

Brendon Fulton, school principal of the Dubai British School, said: “I find it unfortunate that most UK exam boards have chosen to charge parents full fees for the cancelled GCSE and A-Level exams. While I appreciate that there are still costs involved in administering the predicted grades process to allow exam boards to ratify and award final grades to students, this process cannot possibly be as onerous or costly as marking and moderating hundreds upon thousands of exam scripts.”

He added: “Parents are very rightly upset with this. Unfortunately, the schools have no say over what the exam boards charge.”

Similarly, Jodh Singh Dhesi, deputy chief education officer of GEMS Education, said: “Examining boards which provide English qualifications like GCSEs, iGCSEs, A levels, BTECs and others, have continued to charge exam fees this year. As is normal practice, these costs have been passed on to families.”

‘Similar costs entailed’

Head teachers explain that although the IB has cancelled examinations for this year, they have introduced a thorough external marking of all “internal assessments” done as coursework.

Dean A. Pyrah, executive principal of Victoria International School of Sharjah and head of the IB Association of Schools in the UAE, said: “Normally only limited samples would be marked, but this year all pieces will be marked. This requires hundreds of examiners marking tens of thousands of pieces of work.

“Normally, these examiners would be marking the external exams but this year they are marking internal assessments instead. This process comes at quite a cost as examiners will need to be paid for their work and the administration costs of collecting, collating and marking such volumes of work are immense.”

Fees that would have been paid to examiners tasked to mark papers have been shifted to payments for those marking coursework, Pyrah said.

Some school-based costs refunded

Some schools, however, are returning a portion of the fees related specifically to the institute’s costs.

Pyrah said: “We at VISS, however, do not charge our families any extra cost for examinations and therefore our parents are not being asked to pay for the cost of the coursework being assessed either.”

Another head teacher confirmed extending some relief to parents. Ian Colledge, executive principal at Raha International School, Abu Dhabi, said: “At Raha International School, IB Diploma exam fees were invoiced and paid in Term 1. The IB has confirmed that they will be charging the same amount per exam, per student as they are now marking all internal assessments as opposed to a random sample. As a result and to compensate our parents, Raha is currently in the process of reimbursing the proportion of the fees which pertained to school based costs, such as exam invigilation.”

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 

 

 





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