By Elsa Baxter
Double digit increases in school fees are not acceptable as costs have stabilised - Dr Abdullah Al Karam.
School fee hikes are not justified this year and talks about a new fee caps are currently underway with the Ministry of Education, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority chief has said.
Dr Abdullah Al Karam, chairman of the board of directors and director-general of the KHDA, told Gulf News, school fees must reflect current cheaper rental costs.
"Schools should not expect double-digit increases in fees because the reasons are not there. Now inflation is coming down and property rentals are stabilised," he told the paper.
He declined to confirm if there would be a cap on further fee hikes after school inspections in March, but said talks were underway with the ministry about new fee caps taking into account current market conditions.
Last year schools were allowed to raise fees by seven to 15 percent depending on their performance – the better the performance the higher the fee increase allowed. This year additional criteria may be included for schools to be able to raise fees.
"Whatever increases schools claim have to be well-justified hikes which will be solely used for educational purposes like training teachers or introducing new educational tools, and not for paying rents," Al Karam told the paper.
"In the last two years, the issues schools always spoke about were of rising operational costs in terms of property rental and teachers' salaries. The percentages of increase they received were perceived to be insufficient, though in the last two to three years we have seen almost double-digit increases,” he said.
"Now when the parents pay more, they can demand more from schools in terms of teachers' quality or improvement in learning tools. The increase they pay is not meant to go to rentals but for the quality of education their children receive."
The fact that KHDA is talking about not allowing "double digit"increases means they are contemplating permitting some increases. This is the classic disconnect between Dubai policy makers and the masses. The times are still tough on jobs front, also on salary front. So it is wise not to allow any fees hikes this year.
Teaching & Education was always imparted for a higher cause to benefit others, society and the community. The Government has to play a major role in developing and restructuring the system wherein everybody benefits and funding should be encouraged for rather better cause than in only infrastructure development. It's only the people of today who is going to make the future tommorow a place for people to live in.
If the school education fees is going to be so expensive, how about the higher education in college and university and what one does who has limited and only source of income to justify and support family. This is really a serious matter and needs to be addressed as a top agenda and is for the national concern.
So we pay higher fees and we can demand higher standards? What dream world do you live in? Most schools are run like businesses - at least the higher cost ones. You know what they will say? If you don't want to pay, remove your child. If you are not happy with teaching standards, go to another school. Parents have no choice - if you want your child in a certain school, you pay the price, and you don't get a say in education standards. Get real guys, its a sellers market, and every decent international school has a waiting list.
There has and always will be a difference in opinion between the policy makers and those on whom the policies will be executed. When such a rift occurs again and again, what comes across naturally is to ask those in question. If we are talking about school fees been hiked, then we need to answer for what and for whom?Even if the rent prices have gone down, the costs of running a school isnt, because of the pressures of providing quality infrastructure and education. So, important discussion that lay here, is accountability of the percentage increase in school fees and how that can be bettered with people who manage them, than shutting our eyes and saying, that quality education can still be provided with very minimal to no fee hike. All I can say, is that the students should not suffer !!
The amount charged in some of the private schools in the UAE are equivalent to some of the top private schools in the USA and Europe. Do you really think you are getting the same type of education as you would in the top private schools in the US and Europe? Think about it before you answer! It all comes down to greed!
The education situation for expats is rather problematic. UAE government is responsible only for the education of Emiratis. The remaining populations (roughly 80% expats) have been and are at the mercy of private schools. The situation got even nastier when a few of these entrepreneurs created monopolies to control all education. That is why you often hear: if itâ€™s too expensive for you, take your child somewhere else. But they know and you know that there are no other options. They have made sure of it.
Whether we like it or not...and for most families with children of school age....it is a major cost for personal or corporate budgets to meet the cost of school fees. It is the same situation for rents for housing. For the cost of renting my villa for my family I could buy a house in my home country in less than 5 years. Face it...Dubai has outpriced itself on so many fronts entirely because of greed
Of course there should be no hike! If anything, ther eshould be REDUCTION commesurate with the salary reductions of the parents. Yeah, it will be snowing in Dubai first ... However, there is a way. If one of the parents does not work, and is willing to sacrifice all the "free" time, the way out is: home schooling! Yes, it's hard and you can not ship the kids off to school to bother someone else (not my opinion, the attitude of many I have met). And, it costs a third or less of the "quality" private schools here, you don't pay for the transport, uniforms, other fees that just pop up. We have done it ... and are shocked and amazed at the stuff our child does NOT know after a lot of time (and money!) spent in local "quality" private schools.
To all who have written here, some schools in UAE charge pittens as compared to many others, so its not true for all schools, that fees are exhorbitant. We need to understand that all schools dont come in the same fees range and hence, in a few schools, fee hike for improvment of infrastructure and quality is a must.