Costly learning

The hike in school fees recently approved by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) for the 2011-2012 academic year has raised concerns among parents who are already worried over the increasing cost of education in the emirate.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Wed 27 Jul 2011, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:02 AM

“By how much?” asked Indian national Joseph Daniel warily. As a buyer from a private firm in Mussafah, Daniel pays for his children’s education. His nine-year-old daughter’s school, the Sunrise English Medium School which follows the April – March Indian calendar, has been given the approval to raise its tuition fees by three per cent. Daniel said he was not aware of the increase.

According to Salih Hamza, school accountant, a circular was sent to the parents before the school closed for summer in June. He said the “slight” increase will be applicable to all classes and will be adjusted in the monthly/term payments of parents. Sunrise’s tuition fees will now range from Dh4999 for Kindergarten, an increase of Dh142, up to Dh7468 for Grade 12, an addition of Dh208. Daniel said it was not “favourable” but he has no other option.

Last week, the ADEC disclosed that it had given permission to 60 schools across the emirate to increase their fees.

The council has not named the schools but mentioned that 31 are from Abu Dhabi, 24 from Al Ain and five from the Western Region. It described the schools by their curricula — 18 Ministry of Education; 19 British and American; nine International Baccalaureate, French, Canadian and Japanese; and 14 Asian.

The ADEC did not reveal the maximum increases permitted, however, Brian Fox, manager for the private school licensing and accreditation at the ADEC, said the “approved average tuition fee increase is about 6.6 per cent across the 60 schools” while the permitted hike in fees for books, transportation and uniform averages 5.3 per cent, 12.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively. A random survey of some of the schools in Abu Dhabi revealed varying range of increases.

The American Community School of Abu Dhabi has raised its tuition fees by eight per cent across all levels, the British International School Abu Dhabi (BISAD) by six per cent while Al Yasmina School by five per cent.

Gems American Academy, meanwhile, has upped their tuition fees by 20 per cent to Dh31,500 for KG1 to Dh66,780 for Grades 1-7. A spokesperson from Gems Education confirmed the 20 per cent increase but did not state the reason behind it. “The parents were told well in advance so that they can plan ahead and make choices for their children,” the official said.

At the BISAD, parents were not pleased with how the school announced the tuition fees hike.

An Australian mother of two, Anna, (not her real name) said the news of the increase came to their attention “casually” in a short two-liner at the end of the June newsletter announcing a “slight increase” in the fees.

“This is not fair, as this did not leave us enough time to get our kids into another school. It is also not justified as the tuition fee is already high,” she stressed.

In addition to the tuition fees, Anna also has to pay for her child’s special student support and this, she said, is already as high as the fees.

A British mother said that an e-mail from BISAD came during the school break notifying them of the six per cent increase but no reason was given.

Kylie McKenzie, marketing and admissions manager at BISAD, told Khaleej Times that the school will open up three new classes each for KG1 and KG2 in the coming school year, add four or five new primary classes and two classes for Grade 10.

For Siddique Ahmed, father of a student, an advance notice would definitely be helpful. “We have to be ready for this,” he said. The Pakistani national said that he was not informed of any increase from his kids’ school.

As a senior government employee, Ahmed benefits for full school coverage from his company, however, his company requires a quotation from the school. If there are late increases after the quotation has been approved, he has to shoulder the difference.

Early this year, ADEC had implemented a formalised process in accepting and granting requests for fee increases in an effort to regulate the fees charged by private schools.

“School applications are considered on their individual merit and takes into account several factors including planned improvements and investments of the schools need to fund and the school’s educational performance,” Fox said.

The ADEC also considered the financial position of the school, history of its fee increases as well as the ability of the parents to afford the increases.

ADEC approved the application of 60 schools to increase fees

31 of the schools are from Abu Dhabi, 24 from Al Ain and 5 from the Western Region

18 are following the Ministry of Education curriculum; 19 British and American curricula; 9 from the International Baccalaureate, French, Canadian and Japanese schools and 14 are Asian schools

Average approved increase — 6.6% in tuition fees, 5.3% for books, 12.3% for transport and 0.7% for uniform

Fees of some schools for 2011-2012 academic year:Gems American Academy upped its tuition fees by 20% to Dh31,500 for KG1 to Dh66,780 for Grades 1-7

The American Community School of Abu Dhabi increased by 8% across all levels to Dh39,960 for KG1 up to Dh73,130 for Grades 9-12.

BISAD increased fees by 6%. The annual fee for KG1 is Dh46,497 and that for Grade 10 is Dh62,516.

Al Yasmina School increased fees by 5% to Dh41,580 for KG1-Grade 6 up to Dh57,330 for Grades 10-12.

Sunrise English Medium School increased its tuition fees by 3% per cent from Dh4,999 for KG1 to Dh7,468 for Grade 12.

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