Sharjah: At least 43 out of a total 86 private schools in Sharjah have applied for permission to increase their tuition fees by 5 to 10 per cent for the new school year 2013/2014, Gulf News has learnt.
The Head of Schools and Institutes Licensing at the Sharjah Education Zone, Mohammad Esmail Al Zarouni, said that the department has formed a committee to assess schools who have requested a tuition hike in accordance with regulations, according to a report in an Arabic newspaper. An official at the Sharjah Education Zone told Gulf News that a decision is yet to be taken on the fee hike.
Thirty-four schools which follow government and foreign curriculums, and nine schools which follow Indian curriculums have all requested a tuition hike.
In reference to resolution No 203 of 2008, schools are allowed to increase their fees annually by 5-10 per cent, said Al Zarouni, adding that the earlier resolution of 2001 allowed an increase only once in three years.
The Sharjah Education Zone is also urging the administrative authorities of the 43 schools to notify the guardians of the students about the possibility of a tuition hike for the next school year.
With half the private schools in Sharjah requesting an increase their annual tuition fees, Gulf News talked to several parents whose children attend private schools.
Mother-of-two Rakhi Kapur said that schools often fail to consider the extra costs of transport and after-school activity classes. “We are paying around Dh1,000 dirhams which is Dh10,000 a year for each child’s tuition as well as other costs for extra classes after school,” said Kapur. She also pointed out that students who are interested in music, art and sport are offered extra classes which the schools do not include in their annual tuition fees.
“They should not hike the fees again because as parents we are paying so much for the education of our children and education in general is very expensive here in the UAE,” added Kapur.
While school tuition is included in the job package for some parents, other families are not so lucky. “We have to pay the full amount from our pockets and it will be another burden to bear if they hike the fees,” said Kupar.
Another concerned parent, Dr Pawan Kumar Madan, said he has had to bear the cost of a 30-40 per cent tuition hike last year at the private school his son is attending.
“If the fee increment is in proportion with our earnings, then the fee hike doesn’t pinch, but if it is out of proportion with the rate of inflation in the UAE, then it really affects us,” said Madan.
Pointing out that while schools continue to request a hike in fees, he said that the standard of education remains the same. “Schools should hold more parent-teacher meetings to explain to us why they are requesting the hike and what will change in the school, whether it’s in extra curricular activities or classes,” added Madan. The sudden decision by schools to increase tuition fees is often unjustifiable, he added.
Fee increases in other emirates
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) bases school fee increases on their ranking in inspection. Schools in Dubai are allowed to increase fees based on the ranking awarded.
Schools that were rated ‘outstanding’ were allowed a 6 per cent increase, while schools ranked ‘good’ could hike their tuition fees by up to 4.5 per cent, and those listed as ‘satisfactory’ and ‘unsatisfactory’ were allowed a 3 per cent hike.
Despite this policy KHDA has announced that there will be no fee hike in private schools in Dubai this academic year (2013-2014). This is because the Dubai Statistics Centre (DSC) announced this year’s Educational Cost Index (ECI) is minus 1 per cent. Not-for-profit and embassy schools rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’, however, can apply for a fee hike as per exemptions allowed in the School Fee Framework.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) accepts requests from schools and then conducts a study. Last year Adec gave approval to 31 private schools out of 60 that applied. The hikes included an increase in tuition fees and non-academic charges, but overall did not exceed 1.84 per cent.