Dubai/ Abu Dhabi/ Fujairah: It is that time again for parents, who are faced once again with paying tuition fees for the new academic year.

Without a doubt, the cost of education is constantly rising, but can everybody bear the costs? In a recent Gulf News poll, 78 per cent of respondents said schools should show compassion when parents cannot pay their fees, while 13 per cent said they should not, and the remaining nine per cent were unsure.

So is the rising cost of education in private schools justifiable? Do parents believe that they are getting their money's worth?

Sobhia Al Masri, a 42-year-old Palestinian, has enrolled her three children aged 15, 13 and six in private schools.

"I am satisfied with the quality of education my children are getting, but I wish private schools would focus more on Arabic as a language as much as they are focusing on English. I also feel there should be more activities in schools. Fees are very expensive and no one can argue that, but it is understandable given the high rental cost and the salaries of teachers."

Investment manager Arvinder Singh, a 31-year-old from India, said: "My younger brother goes to a private school so I have a fair idea of what my parents have to go through.

"Private schools are expensive, but there are no other options for expatriates and not everybody can afford the fees. Moving your family to the UAE is expensive and the most expensive cost is the education.

"The prices are too high for what they are offering as they do not encourage students to take up more subjects for their O levels, as well as not encouraging outdoor activities. The only sport my brother plays is on the Play Station."

Mohammad Afzal Malik, a 32-year-old travel shop supervisor from Pakistan, said: "I think it is hard to generalise in terms of standards, as I think each school has to be considered individually. But overall, private schools are of a good standard.

"In terms of costs I do not have to worry too much about school fees because I have a child in junior level, but in the future I hope things will remain affordable enough for expatriates so we do not have to send our children back home to study.

"Some schools are trying to pass a 100 per cent rise in fees, which I think will be disastrous for many people."

Firas Mahmoud, a 32-year-old brand manager from Palestine, said: "I can surely say that the cost of education is way too expensive for parents, who already have to think about other savings such as the cost of rent and the food that you need to bring to the dinner table each day. "Education here is all right, but it can be better. I think children are given too much homework and teachers overload them with too much work, which is not right; they should be given more space to think on their own."

Delhia Peneyra, a 51-year-old Filipina radiographer, said: "I had my 17-year-old daughter in a private school from kindergarten to grade 10 but due to high school fees, she's now completing her studies in the Philippines.

"Education here is good, and when my daughter went to the Philippines she had an advantage in comparison to other students because of her strong English skills, thanks to her school. However, the tuition fees are way too expensive here - the hike is not justifiable."

George C.J., a 46-year-old Indian engineer, said: "The majority of [schools] are satisfactory as the curriculum is very good, but students need a lot more things than books. Schools should not only be about mathematics and chemistry, but should make students interact with the world and with each other.

"They are getting more expensive and every year the costs keep rising. School activities are very limited and I think more outdoor sports should be provided for the children."

Sanjeev Menon, a 42-year-old media-in-charge from India, said: "I am not fully satisfied with the standards of education and I think that in Dubai and Sharjah there are better options than here in Fujairah. There are things that could raise the standards in private schools, such as an improvement of teacher professionalism. Cost wise, I think private education is reasonable for now and I do not think it is too expensive."

Your comments

The schools' fees should be reduced or the number of cheques per year should be increased since everyone is facing with fianiacial crisis. Moreover,Arabic and religion(islamiyat) should be give high priority. Arabic should be taught in such a way that a person actually learns how to SPEAK arabic.
Posted: March 29, 2009, 15:11

MOE should visit private schools without notice and investigate in terms of quality of education, fees increase, was the school provided necessary text books to children and are their appointed subject teachers for that particular subjects etc.
Posted: March 29, 2009, 14:59

I do agree with george c.j that the fees in private schools are too high and they are getting more expensive every year. The rising cost of education is not justifiable. The government should set up a committee to monitor the annual raise in tuition fees in these private schools. extracullicular activities in these private schools are limited, they should provide more outdoor sports for children and give more emphasis on religious development.
M.Z. Sharif
Posted: March 29, 2009, 13:59