Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Parents are bracing themselves for another round of fee increases as schools reopen after the summer break at the end of this month.

A total of 117 private schools will increase their fees after they received approval from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) earlier this year.

This fee increase has already been implemented in Indian schools from April. It will be implemented to the rest of the private schools in the emirate on August 30.

According to the fee framework, schools rated ‘outstanding’ (the highest rating) in the KHDA’s latest inspections (2014-15 inspections) can increase their fees by 5.84 per cent.

Similarly, schools rated ‘good’ can increase their fees by 4.38 per cent while schools rated acceptable or unacceptable can increase their fees only by 2.92 per cent.

This is an increase from last year when fees were fixed at 3.48 per cent for ‘outstanding’, 2.61 per cent for ‘good’ and 1.74 per cent for acceptable and unacceptable schools.

Parents, meanwhile, say the increase every year is a burden.

Filipino mother Shella Tolentino, who works in human resources, said her grade nine daughter’s school fees have become a burden on the family. “My daughter’s school fee alone is over Dh20,000, the bus fee is Dh4,000, books and stationery cost another 1,000 and the uniform is around Dh800. This does not include the money I give her every day to buy food,” she said.

The fees excludes school field trips as Shella had to shell out Dh11,000 last year for a London tour.

Shella said the fees have become a huge burden because her daughter’s school, which was rated good last year and so increased its fees by 4.38 per cent, no longer accepts monthly payments. “This year I have to pay around Dh8,000 at once, three times a year, and if I don’t pay on time my child might be at risk of getting thrown out,” she said.

The increase is not justified because the school increased its fees every year but there were no significant changes in the facilities or academic standards, she said. “Thank God we only have one child,” said Shella, who is not considering having more children because of the increasing costs of living and education in the country.

Similarly, Jordanian May Al Khatib now pays over Dh100,000 every year for her three children. Her children’s school was also rated good and is entitled to a 4.38 per cent increase. “Schools fees are really putting a pressure on us to the point that my husband and I are considering moving them to a less expensive school, which can mean a school with lower standards of teaching,” she said.

According to a 2014-15 KHDA report, 61 per cent of the 255,208 students who go to private schools in Dubai pay over Dh10,000 per year.

The report also said fees can reach up to Dh98,649 per child in some private schools here.

Mother of four daughters Emirati Salama Al Hebsi pays more than Dh20,000 for each child. “I pay around Dh80,000 per year and as my daughters get older the fees are going to increase. The fees are truly high. It would have been difficult to provide my children a quality education if fees were not included in my husband’s benefits,” she said.

Ana Esmail, who works in the hospitality sector, said such an increase is a burden to an ordinary employee like her where school fees are not included in benefits. “My grade four son’s school fees increased from Dh14,737 per annum to Dh15,382 and this is only the school fees,” said Ana.