Extra school expenses weigh on parents' pockets, minds

Extra school expenses weigh on parents pockets, minds

Dubai - According to many parents, unnecessary expenses incurred at the schools adds zero value to their child's future or personality.


Ankita Chaturvedi

Published: Mon 13 Mar 2017, 7:32 PM

"Gone are the days when educating a child was easy and hassle free. Everything has become a business in most of the schools in Dubai. For routine events like photoshoots, trips etc, students are charged hefty amounts in the name of learning. Like, recently I paid Dh80 for a print of a simple picture taken at the school, whereas the same service is available for a much lower price outside, say Dh20," complained A K, a concerned father of a grade 10 student from one of the city's renowned schools.
"As far as extra-curricular activities are concerned, they are outsourced to for-profit commercial companies which charge very high prices for simple activities like sports, dance, etc. It is my personal view that, unless it is highly specialised training/programme, the extra-curricular activities should be conducted by the school itself, at no extra cost to the students," he added.
Advanced teaching methods, emphasis on extra-curricular activities, and the increased involvement of students in school events and special arrangements is heavily weighing on the parents' pockets and burdening their budgets. According to many parents, unnecessary expenses incurred at the schools adds zero value to their child's future or personality.
There are those who disagree too. Veena Badiger, a teacher at one of the leading Dubai schools and also the mother of a grade 7 student believes whatever extra money parents spend on a child for activities or trips definitely helps in their growth and development. She, however, agrees that many of the school are really high and needs to be addressed. "I find school expenses, including purchase of notebooks and textbooks from the school is expensive; the same books are available at a lesser price on the market and way less when we buy them from India," Badiger said.
Many parents feel the school uniforms, fees, books and bus fees are already high, and the addition of other costs dents their pockets badly. But others feel it is important to nurture the children's mind and personality through such activities. Therefore, these should not be discouraged - instead, the extra expenses should be charged along with the tuition fee. This would help avoid last minute surprises and help the parents plan accordingly. Khalid Shaikh said, "My son is studying in KG 2. We often get requests at very short notice to pay up for different activities. More often than not, the activities don't measure up to the price charged."
Sreedevi Nair, a teacher, said: "My kids currently study in a British curriculum school. Until the last academic year, they were in an Indian school. The expenses - other than fees - in both schools were okay. There are regular field trips for which the costs are not too high, plus we feel that such trips are an essential part of education and worth the money. Another expense is for costumes during plays or theme days. This can be managed if you stick to homemade costumes, which I have started doing now. One item that I felt was an unnecessary is the forced purchase of notebooks and stationery which happened in the previous school. Not only were the prices higher than the market rates, but most of the items remained unused during the academic year. Then, the next year, we are forced to buy the same things again."
Beema Siraj, a housewife and mother of two kids in Grades 5 and 9, has a different take on the issue. "The extra school expenses are more for the lower grades than the higher ones, besides the tuition fee, and include class trips, dance costumes and class photos. We've not had much of a problem as they are comparatively low at the school my children attend, but some schools charge so high that a few parents even decide to move their kids to other schools."
Don't just budget for tuition fees, warns expert
Other than the tuition fees, there are several other expenses that parents need to keep a budget for. Most of these extra expenses are non-regulated and are at the discretion of the school management. These are:
> Transport
> Books
> Uniforms
> Voluntary donations
This is how you budget
Parents should have a discussion with the school management at the start of the school year. Ideally, the school management should be proactive in disclosing the extra costs at the beginning of the year and perhaps an estimate for the next few years.
(As told by Atik Munshi, Senior Partner at Horwath Mak)
Do schools charge too much on extra activities, trips?
Abhilasha Chaube, Parent
"For the experience and exposure that the students receive, I think it is a fair amount that the school charges. Our children get an opportunity to be a part of different activities and learn through them."
Tulsi Vinod, Parent
"Such activities and outings not only foster extended learning but also develop the social skills of our children, providing them a learning experience and building in them team spirit."
Almas Aamir,Parent
"My child's school, Our Own English High School, Sharjah Boys Branch encourages the use of old/inoperative items for projects, models, exhibitions etc. This saves parents a good deal of money, and also incorporates its value in children."
Samay Dadlani, Student, Gems Wellington Primary
"My parents spend approximately Dh3,000 for annually on things like my school photo, desert residential camp, World Book Day, UAE National Day, Sports Day, Chocolate Sale Day, International Fair, field trips, Dental Week and much more. All these events are a wonderful, fun learning experience."

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