Dubai: With UAE students returning to school next week after the summer break, parents are busy shopping for back-to-school supplies and managing the expenses as best as they can through various means.
Save in advance
Indian expat Leena Parwani, an entrepreuner, said cost of back to school for her son Moksh has risen by at least 20 per cent from last year. “Today parents have to pre-plan their budget for including the rising cost of back to school. That is what I have done. Save in advance is a mantra I followed in order to prepare for my son to return to school this new term.”
Filipina mother Joan De Sagun, 45, who is a financial analyst, said cost of her children’s back to school has gone up. Her children, Alexander, 9, is going to grade 5, while Andrick, 6, is going to grade 3. She said her children’s school books alone are costing 15 per cent higher than what she paid last year. So she is considering buying secondhand textbooks.
“Plus, I will buy new stationaries this year only if they are necessary,” she said, adding that she is able to making a saving only on books and stationaries. “Uniform, tuition fees, transportation cost are beyond my control.”
The financial analyst said buying secondhand books for her children has helped her save 40 per cent on her total back-to-school expenses, which excludes tuition and bus fees.
Canadian mother Mona Liza Bilal, 45, said her two children going back to school this year are Maryam, 13, who is entering Year 9, and Amina, 7, who is going to Year 3. “Most parents are trying to reuse the same school bags, using sibling uniforms, and finding stationary from dollar stores. Finding alternate uniform shops is the most logical solution. But it requires many things, like approval from the school for their logo to be stitched into the uniform. It is a long process.”
Recently, a GCC-wide survey, commissioned by Zurich in partnership with YouGov, sought parents’ feedback on school costs. Rayner Britto, Head of Sales and Distribution at Zurich in the Middle East, said: “Parents should invest and set up a savings plan for their children’s education early on and consider factors such as the level of higher education, location of the university, living expenses, chances of securing a scholarship and expected average inflation rates. This would help in identifying the best plan for each individual or family.”
Dr Alka Kalra, director of Eduscan group, said : “I think it is very important for parents to address the stress which they face especially during back to school... The way they can get through this is with careful budgeting. Parents can do well by cutting down on unwanted costs and encouraging their children to get into the habit of using reusable things, be it books or uniforms.”
She added: “In fact schools too must encourage parents and children to share old books and uniforms. We really need to formalise this. Students should take pride if they are reusing the books. It is time we value our planet and teach our little ones to use books as a second user.”
Dr Kalra said children should be involved in the financial planning by their parents. “Especially with respect to older students, parents should teach them financial responsibility, get them involved in family budgets as all this can provide great solutions and financial respite to parents in managing back-to-school costs.”
Adding up costs
Uzbekistan mother Nilufar Yuldash, 32, said the cost of uniforms for her eight-year-old son Kamron is up almost 40 per cent. “Last year I paid around Dh400 for a set, this time it is around Dh700. Winter uniform gets even more expensive as it comes with full pants, an extra jacket or cardigan. All this adds up to the cost,” she said, even as she is looking at ways to bring down the expense.