Students react as they exit from the physics CBSE they have just completed at the Our Own English High School in Dubai. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai:  As children in the UAE start the school year today, parents will be tightening their purse strings to meet the escalating cost of education.

Many parents said that from increased tuition fees to the cost of uniforms, stationery and extra curricular activities, the year ahead would strain their monthly budgets.

Most Asian schools start their new term today, after their academic year started in April. All public school pupils, from kindergarten through to high school, will start the first day of their school year tomorrow. Some of the international schools commenced classes yesterday.

Patrick Gonsalviz said his family would have no more weekend outings due to the strain of education costs. The marketing manager from Sri Lanka said he had to pay Dh24,000 in term fees for his two children, going into grades three and four.

"This is in addition to the expenses of buying their school uniforms, books and stationery," he said.

"The school shopping itself cost me around Dh3,000 this year," Gonsalviz said.

He said he managed the back-to-school expenses using his credit card. "I had no other [option] but plastic money so that I don't end up borrowing from friends or colleagues," he said.

"My monthly payments on credit card will increase substantially, and I will have to cut down on my monthly budget."

Tuition fees for his children had gone up by 20 per cent this year, Gonsalviz said.

"My salary has not increased in the last two years. But the cost of education for my kids is always on an upward swing," he said.

Many parents said they were forced to do a tightrope walk between a quality education and an affordable one.

This year, many schools have increased their tuition fee up to 20 and 25 per cent. At least five GEMS schools and two of Taaleem's schools in Dubai have been granted permission to increase the fees for the new academic year.

Fee increases

In the American Academy for Girls in Al Mizhar, run by Taaleem, the second largest private education provider in the UAE, fees have gone up from Dh28,580 to Dh34,000 for KG1. For grades six and above, the fees have jumped from Dh38,980 to Dh47,000.

M.E., a parent with a student in Uptown Mirdiff school, said the increase in school expenses meant his two children had to discontinue their piano classes. The school raised its fees by 20 per cent.

"I had to explain to my kids that I can no longer afford it to keep them in the same school," said M.E., who works for a construction company in Abu Dhabi.

Are you cutting down on costs? How? Do you find the cost of raising a child high?