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Private school enrolment drops by over 50 per cent

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Aug 20,2020 - Last updated at Aug 20,2020

AMMAN — The financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis and fears from a second wave that might cause schools to go into remote education mode once again have caused the enrolment percentage in private schools to decrease by over 50 per cent, according to a sector representative.

"The fear of going back to remote education has led parents to seek public schools instead of private schools," President of the Private Schools Owners' Association Monther Al Sourani told The Jordan Times on Wednesday over the phone.

Sourani said that private schools have been committed to defence orders and have a lot of operational fees and salaries to pay.

He noted that while some schools are doing well, many are witnessing enrolment cancellations "by the hundreds".

Many parents are cancelling the enrolment of their children due to the financial repercussions they faced under the crisis, Sourani said.

The association's president pointed out that the upcoming days and any decisions made will determine how things unfold for private schools, which start on September 1.

He added that if remote education is back on the table in the upcoming semester, some private schools will shut down due to their inability to meet their financial dues with very few enrolled students.

The government announced as per Defence Order No.6 at the end of May, which stipulates that hard-hit businesses are allowed to deduct certain percentages from the salaries of their employees.

The announcement said at the time that to protect employees’ jobs, any employee whose contract ended by April 30 must have their employers automatically renew it for them, cancelling any prior decisions and ensuring that the contract remains valid until the defence order is no longer in effect. After this, renewals can only be made by agreement between employer and employee.

However, the condition for renewal is that the contract must have been renewed three times before April 30. Otherwise, employers can end the services of their employees as per article 28 of the Labour Law.

At the time, various teachers with relatively high salaries contacted The Jordan Times and said that their contracts were ended abruptly because the conditions for renewal did not apply to them, checking if there was anything they could do to get their jobs back.

Parents also complained about the very high costs, even at private schools that presented offers and discounts.

The parents also said that they paid in full and they were not reimbursed for the services that were not accessible anymore when education was turned online.

Commenting on Facebook on the news about the drop in enrolment, Mohammad Jadallah Hussien wrote: "Private schools did not treat parents, teachers and not even their drivers properly, following their greed in every transaction".

While many commented that private schools have been charging a lot of money, Mariam Shaheen wrote: "People have the freedom to enrol their children in private schools or not, and while everyone is attacking owners, they forget that there are teachers whose livelihood depends on those schools."

Jehad Almonayer wrote: "Private schools ought to reduce their fees because of families' weak financial conditions, especially with the recent hike in cases that is causing parents to fear paying the fees and then having school getting cancelled if the situation escalates."

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