Privately owned schools in the United Arab Emirates have used increasing teachers' salaries as an excuse to raise their fees
The schools which belong to the GEMS corporation have just persuaded the government to let them increase their fees by a total of 152,000 Dh per month on the grounds that they were unable to attract talented teachers if they did not increase their pay. However teachers say that the increase in the teachers' salary bill is an estimated 80,000Dh per month - leaving a vast increase in profits for GEMS.
The teachers had been promised a proper salary structure but in fact teachers in GEMS schools in the UAR earn about 721$ per month. A teacher from Our Own English High School (one of the GEMS schools) told Gulf News: "I do not understand how the management expects us to accept this increment to our already meagre salary of Dh2,650 to Dh2,900 per month. We all had high hopes that the school will offer us a substantial increase after they fought it out with the authorities to get approval for the fee increase."
The GEMS corporation (motto: Learn. Aspire. Be) has just been admitted to the World Economic Forum - the club of the richest corporations in the world who invite politicians to their gatherings once a year and control much of what goes on globally. A spokesman for WEF said: "The World Economic Forum is delighted to have GEMS Education as a member of our Community of Global Growth Companies - among the most dynamic growing companies in the world. As an innovator in the field of education they have proven how the private sector can raise standards and contribute to society as a whole". GEMS runs schools all over the world including in Europe, the UK, India, China and the Pacific Rim. It is part of the growth of education as a trillion dollar business which was forecast by EdInvest news - a sub stratum of the International Monetary Fund - in 2000:
"Education: the last frontier for profit. The world spends two trillion dollars or one twentieth of global gross domestic product on education. The private sector, which accounts for roughly a fifth of this amount, is determined to capture a larger share of this giant market. The business world is investing in this new field with a managerial mindset and enterprising spirit."
This free market in education is increasing all the time and the profits are made at the expense of parents who are forced to pay fees - instead of receiving free education as a right as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - at the expense of the states in which the companies are making their profits since they frequently tie up their profits in off shore banking operations to prevent tax being paid - and as this news item shows at the expense of teachers to whom they pay the minimum they think they can get away with.
It is interesting that GEMS is a global company as are other education corporations such as EDISON. There must be room for more collaboration between teachers' unions in the different countries where these corporations operate. We would very much like to hear from people working for these companies and would be happy to pass on information. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org