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Private education a big fat curse for UAE parents?

Providing the best possible education for your children is normally a no-brainer but with nervous parents chewing off their nails to keep up, what solutions are there?

September 11, 2012 11:00 by

Parents of private school goers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are quickly turning into raging balls of stress as they struggle to cope with what they describe as ‘soaring’ tuition fees. While giving private schools that have achieved a performance rating of ‘outstanding’ the green light to hike their fees by 4.5 to 6 percent may not be looked upon favourably, but at least it can be condoned or understood.

On the other hand, for a school that has received a ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’ rating to also be eligible for a fee increase of even as low as 3 percent is certainly, not in any fashion, outstanding. As Kipp seeps through a letter written by a ‘Bemused Parent’ in Dubai, voicing his/her concerns over the flawed system that controls the educational institutes, we confess that we have also become slightly bemused.

“…And how can you allow the schools that are not ‘outstanding’ to raise their fees then? Shouldn’t you be returning money to parents because the school isn’t outstanding, rather than rewarding the school with permission to increase fees anyway?”

There are almost 150 private schools in Dubai alone and many of them (while watched and judged for performance) have been given the easy way out. Financially speaking that is.

Kipp certainly sees the logic in that statement (among countless others) and empathizes with parents as they struggle to keep up with the annual increase of their children’s private school fees. What’s more, while some parents agree that necessary learning should originate from the school itself, as many as 60 percent of parents are concerned that without private tuition, their children may not receive adequate training and so the educational receipts start to stack up.

In the capital, Kipp notices (with saddened eyes) how much bleaker the situation is, as parents are forced to resort to extreme measures to try and provide a relatively decent education via private institutions. Many Abu Dhabi parents told The National that some women are resorting to obtaining full time work, applying for bank loans to keep up with payments or simply resort to leaving their jobs and the city altogether. Concerned parents encapsulate the issue as salaries and education packages given by employers are not anywhere near meeting the standards of increased tuition fees every year.

In Abu Dhabi, over 30 private schools were given the go-ahead, while over 130 institutions were eligible in Dubai. Are you kidding me? The KHDA, initiated for the ‘protection’ and regulation of educational quality, student life and tuition control has stopped a mere 6 schools in the city from increasing their fees. The more ‘rejections’, for lack of a better word, that pop out of a regulation authority, the stronger and more committed that authority appears to the public. How do you measure the prestige of a top-class university like Harvard or Cambridge? You look at the percentage of students it rejects, right?

Six schools rejected and the rest deserved to increase their fees accordingly? Kipp can’t help but side with the aforementioned ‘bemused parent’ for referring to the educational institutes in Dubai and the rest of the country as “merciless profit-obsessed educational institutions.”

“Up to 80 per cent of a schools income is allocated to teachers’ salaries,” said a Taaleem (education provider) spokesperson.


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  1. Jess McG on September 12, 2012 12:11 pm

    I am currently expecting my first child and my husband and I have always agreed that we would leave Dubai once the child reaches school age, and return to Europe. There is no way that we are willing to pay the ridiculous fees for UAE schools that are – even though rated “outstanding” here – are often still mediocre when compared to European standards. No thank you.

  2. M. Aldalou on September 12, 2012 12:17 pm

    Kipp can appreciate why that is a valid agreement to have especially when you can receive the same (if not better as you said) standards of education in Europe for much much less.

    And i shall end with a Congratulations to you both.


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