8th Apr, 2019

School authorities told Khaleej Times that parents are allowed to buy book from other vendors.

Parents of Indian High School (IHS) students in Dubai are complaining of the "exorbitant prices" of their kids' textbooks and notebooks. Nearly 50 parents of pupils across various grades gathered at the school campus on Sunday, requesting the school's management to cut the prices, which range from Dh650 to Dh1,300, approximately.

School authorities told Khaleej Times that they are looking into the parents' grievances and noted that they are allowed to buy books from other vendors.

Ashok Kumar, CEO of IHS, said in a statement: "The prices have been fixed as per the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education (MoE), and it is not compulsory for students to buy books from the school."

However, the school textbooks are currently unavailable at the major retailers of Indian school curriculum books, such as Goyal Book Shop or Iris International School Supplies. Stocks, they said, are expected to arrive after April 10.

The retail prices of the books do not exceed Dh600 - excluding the costs of notebooks, lab manuals, and other stationery - said storekeepers at Iris International School Supplies.

Kumar added: "We prescribe textbooks as mandated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training for Grades 9 to 12. For students from Grades 1 to 8, we prescribe textbooks recommended by the Central Board of Secondary Education."

The official book list of the school was released on March 29, while the school began operations for the new academic term on April 1. Loose textbooks are expected to be sold only by April 8. Parents said the book list was released "too close to the school's reopening", giving them "very little time" to find the books from elsewhere.

"I looked around for these books in Delhi. None of my relatives could find it," said a parent.

Not keen on starting a fight

Parents have been discussing the issue of exorbitant prices over social media platforms such as WhatsApp, and many have not purchased books for their kids yet.

A Grade 8 student's parent, Rashmi, said: "The school released the book list on March 29. I checked to see if I can find the books outside, but it will be in stores only after April 10."

Abid, another parent, said: "We are not interested in fighting with the school or ruining the school's reputation. We want the school to consider our financial condition and reduce the prices. I have three kids, and it will cost me Dh4,000. We cannot afford that."

Presently, parents are using photocopies of chapters taught in class so that their children do not miss out on any schoolwork. "In my son's class, there are a few children who have purchased the books. We are using copies of those lessons."

Book sets of Grade 1 students are priced at Dh950; Grade 3 books are Dh1,083; Grade 5 books are Dh1,067; Grade 7 books are at Dh1,385; and Grade 8 at Dh1,240 (without Hindi and value education), according to the book lists provided by the parents. For Grade 4 students, textbooks are at Dh947 and notebooks cost Dh67. The list includes some stationery at Dh53.Another parent said: ?Last year, the school changed the school uniforms which were expensive. This year, the price of books went up. How can parents afford everything?"

Parents added that the MoE-mandated social science and value education books have not been added to the list. "Those textbooks cost an additional Dh90. The school also gives printed worksheets called EP books, which cost an additional Dh40," said Abida, another parent.