51 Abu Dhabi schools to increase fees
Fee increases have been approved for 51 private schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi for the 2016-2017 academic year, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) announced on Tuesday.
The average increase at the 51 schools is about six per cent, the emirate’s education sector regulator said in a statement. At the same time, 39 schools were denied permission to raise their fees.
Abu Dhabi currently has 186 private schools, and last year, they enrolled more than 236,000 pupils. The names of the schools that were allowed to increase their fees for the 2016-2017 academic year, or details about curricula they offer, were not available by print deadline.
Among the 90 schools that applied for a fee hike, 15 offer the Asian curriculum and 75 other curriculums.
However, the Adec statement said that schools had to show improvement in a number of criteria to qualify for a fee hike.
For instance, they must demonstrate a commitment towards improving human capital through professional development and better salaries for teachers. They must also have invested in the maintenance and expansion of the school premises and facilities.
In addition, they must employ a set proportion or more of Emirati employees in teaching, administrative and technical positions. The admission of special needs pupils and provision of support for them is also considered before schools are allowed to raise fees.
Additionally, schools cannot increase fees unless they have operated for at least three years, and unless they have maintained their performance standards over the previous academic year as judged by Adec inspections.
They must also have a valid operating licence, and a closed circuit television camera system installed from a certified company.
Parents who spoke to Gulf News appeared dismayed by the news, but said they had no choice but to pay for their children’s education.
“Every parent wants the best education for their children but when you look at the exorbitant fees in Abu Dhabi, you simply end up settling for what you can afford,” said Ebtisam Ahmad, a legal assistant from Thailand.
Ahmad has just enrolled her four-year-old son in a private school, and will be paying Dh10,000 for tuition fee.
“I have heard this amount already includes a recently implemented fee increase. If this is what I am paying for kindergarten, one can only imagine how expensive education will be once he moves to the higher grades,” she said.
Shafeek Yousuf, 35, an Indian manager at an Al Ain-based travel firm, has so far found his son’s fees at an Indian curriculum school to be affordable.
“We pay about Dh6,000 each year for tuition, which is manageable since my son is in Grade 1. But these fees keep increasing the older they get, followed by more yearly increases. My brother lives in Abu Dhabi and he pays more than Dh24,000 a year already for his child. He was complaining that these fees at the British curriculum school keep rising year-on-year without much justified improvement in the quality of education,” he said.
Parents also face difficulty in finding school seats for their children, despite the opening of a number of institutions over the last few years.
“I was looking to enrol my daughter at a British or American curriculum school but was unable to find a seat this year. So this year, she is enrolled at an Indian curriculum school, where the fees are still affordable at Dh30,000,” said Anurag Kashyap, 40, a marketing head from India.
Kashyap said that schools also need to be transparent about how they use the extra money collected from higher fees.
“The truth is that most parents will find one way or another to support their children’s education, even if it means taking a loan. But if I have to pay higher fees, I would definitely look into where the money would go and how it would benefit my daughter’s education,” he added.