Abu Dhabi: Nearly 30 private schools have received approval from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) to increase their fees ahead of the 2012-2013 academic year that begins on September 9, a senior education official said in the capital.
In addition, 16,000 new private school seats are also available at ten new schools across the emirate.
Speaking to Gulf News, Hamad Al Daheri, executive director for private schools and quality assurance at Adec, said Adec approval means that each school can hike its fees by up to nine per cent.
“This year, we received requests to increase fees from 67 private schools, but we have only approved those schools which have justified the need for increasing their fees,” Al Daheri said.
Schools that are undertaking new investment into their facilities, working to increase teacher salaries, or running at a significant loss, are considered more likely to receive Adec approval for a fee hike.
“We need to keep attracting private investors to the education sector. Just as we consider the needs of parents and students, we also must ensure that enough private schools are available for schoolchildren,” the official said.
Many parents have however complained to Gulf News that schools append additional charges throughout the academic year, thus increasing the cost of education.
When told of this, Al Daheri encouraged residents to report any inordinate fees to Adec.
“Unless these fees make a real difference to the quality of education at the school, they are not justified. Parents should therefore contact the Adec if they feel they are facing unjust charges,” he urged.
With regard to the 16,000 new school seats, Al Daheri said that some were in previous villa schools that had moved into better premises, while others were at new institutions.
“These additional seats at a range of schools that offer Indian, American, British and Ministry of Education curricula between them will help ease the shortage of places at private schools. The fees at the schools have also been set at affordable rates, ranging between Dh8,000 and Dh55,000 per year. The exact amount of course depends on the quality of education, and facilities that the school offers,” Al Daheri said.
Nearly 183 private schools operated in the emirate during the 2011-2012 academic year.
Still, a shortage in school seats has been reported by parents and schools since 2009, when Adec began closing down institutions housed in villas. The initiative was undertaken to ensure that schoolchildren have access to a safe environment and proper educational facilities.
“We have so far closed down 37 villa schools. There are 35 remaining ones that offer a mix of educational curricula, and these will be closed as Adec works out how each displaced pupils can be accommodated at replacement facilities,” the official said.
In the meantime, Adec is also working to alleviate the shortage in school seats.
Al Daheri said that 37 new school licences had been approved in 2011-2012.
“In addition, 46 land plots have been sold to private investors at nominal rates in the last three years. The development of schools on these plots will further increase the supply of school seats,” he added.