News Column

School fees increasing steadily over the years

August 30, 2014

Noor Nazzal Staff Reporter

Dubai: As fees and other school expenses increase steadily year after year, parents say it has become increasingly difficult for them to pay for their children's education.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has confirmed that 127 private schools out of 158 private schools in Dubai are going to increase their fees in line with the KHDA's school fee framework.

For the third consecutive year, the hike was determined by the cost index, which is calculated by a comprehensive analysis of the operating costs incurred by schools. The higher the ranking the school receives in school inspections, the more the school can raise its fees.

Meanwhile, a report by the authority found that 58 per cent of the 243,715 students attend private schools that charge more than Dh10,000 per year. With the increase of fees in the 127 private schools, this percentage is expected to increase even more.

A majority of parents interviewed by Gulf News said a big chunk of their salaries is spent on their children's tuition fee.

Jordanian Mohammad Al Herish said he paid around Dh90,000 for the tuition of his three children.

"I would have not been able to spend that kind of amount on my children's education if I had to depend on my salary alone. I have rented out the family house in Amman to be able to pay the fees and, despite the rent money, I still need to take out a big chunk from my salary."

However, he would very soon need to revise his choice of school, he says. "I plan on transferring them to a more affordable school in two years' time because by then, my eldest son will be in university and I would need money to pay for his university tuition."

A school survey conducted last year by found that one in five families spends more than 30 per cent of their monthly household budget on school fees. The findings, which were based on responses from 596 households across the UAE, found that most respondents said they spend between 11-15 per cent of their combined salaries on school fees.

Furthermore, another study featuring 1,072 parents, which was conducted by the same website, found that one in three parents pays their children's school fees late and two out of 10 take personal loans to pay them.

Father of four Hassan Hamad, from Pakistan, said he is not surprised by the survey's finding as he has taken a loan of Dh100,000 to pay for his children's education. "I have put my children in expensive schools because I want them to receive a good quality of education. It is a huge burden to pay such an amount but I am hoping that it will all pay off when they are older."

Hamad says he is expecting to pay off the loan in two years' time with the profit made from his interior design company.

In addition to school fees, Pakistani father of two Ameer Rehman said small additional fees here and there can add to the load. "There are registration fees, extracurricular activity fees and cost of stationery, uniforms and books that parents also need to take into account when planning their budget for their child's education. I paid around Dh20,000 for both my children's fees, but now it seems that I need another Dh10,000 to cover the rest of the costs."

Although many parents like Hamad believe that schools offering higher fees offer better quality of education, inspections results show that this is not the case.

If you take the Gems World Academy — whose fees range from Dh56,831 to Dh98,645 as an example — it has received the same €˜good' rating as Al Diyafah High School, which charges Dh9,842 to Dh20,752, an amount that is significantly lower.

The KHDA also agrees that higher fees do not necessarily mean better education as it has previously stated that many schools that got €˜good' rankings charge between Dh10,000-Dh15,000 a year.

Gulf News found that fees of private schools in the UAE range roughly from Dh5,000 to Dh100,000.

Kings School Nad Al Sheba and Kings School Al Barsha are among the schools that charge higher fees. Its foundation stage one costs Dh50,200 and it will soon charge Dh100,300-Dh103,200 for year 12 and 13, respectively, in the coming years.

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Source: Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

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