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Textbooks, school supplies in GCC costliest in the world

Study claims they are one of the main reasons behind rising school expenses, fees

  • School fees in the GCC are the second highest in the worldImage Credit: GN Archives
  • Dr Jalal Al Hadhrami, chairman of UGERImage Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Textbooks and other educational resource supplies in the region are the most expensive in the world, significantly contributing to the high cost of education in schools and colleges, a study has found.

The study, conducted by United Global Educational Resources or UGER, a GCC-wide educational solutions provider, says these supplies, which include everything from textbooks, uniforms and stationery to lab equipment, playground resources and digital tools, make up for 25-31 per cent of a school’s costs which are either directly or indirectly passed on to students.

More expensive

Speaking to XPRESS, Dr Jalal Al Hadhrami, chairman of UGER, said, “What we discovered in our study is that a fourth of a school’s costs stems from supplies which are far more expensive here than in the international market. For example, textbooks cost at least 40-45 per cent more while stationary comes at a 100-110 per cent hike. The cost of setting up a fully equipped science lab can go up to Dh200,000.”

He said the only way a school can recover these costs is by directly passing it on to its students or by factoring it into its tuition fees. “Either way, the burden on the parents increases. He said other studies have shown that school fees in the GCC are the second highest in the world after Hong Kong and that the average parental spend on a child’s education in the UAE is Dh40,000 per year, while that in Saudi Arabia is an equivalent of Dh30,000 and Oman Dh20,000.

Dr Al Hadhrami said the main reason behind the high cost of supplies is that their procurement is unorganised.

“Our study found that schools in general relied on trading companies who did not stock these supplies, but procured them to order which is more expensive. In some parts of the region, pirated books were being produced at low cost but being sold at original book prices with huge profit margins. It was a rip-off as the books were of poor quality replicas, not updated and lacked support from publishers who had no clue where their books were being used.”

He said UGER undertook a campaign under which it got prominent publishers to issue letters naming authorised distributors to concerned authorities. “We also looked at how sea and air freight add seven and 12 per cent more to the cost of a consignment. The only way this cost could be brought down was to spread the costs by stocking up. This could not only bring the cost down by at least 10 per cent, but also ensure faster deliveries within four-48 hours locally or five working days from the publisher, if the book is available.”


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