UAE parents pay up to Dh2,000 on kids' non-tuition back-to-school costs

Uniforms, gadgets, stationery make up most of childrens' additional expenses


Nandini Sircar

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


Published: Thu 11 Aug 2022, 4:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Aug 2022, 4:54 PM

Parents in the UAE say they pay up to Dhs 2,000 per child on non-tuition back-to-school expenses.

Many have already started making these purchases, either buying brand new items or searching for deals and preloved items.

While most community WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages see several hand-me-down messages and textbook exchange posts, parents say not everything can be purchased second-hand.

American expat Naeema Zaki, whose three children go to the American International School in Abu Dhabi says, "I have three school-age children. Uniforms for each child cost Dhs 1,000. This includes regular school uniforms and gym clothes. Apart from that, my girls also do swimming. So, if you factor that in, you easily shell out another Dh200 for such outfits. Then there are other accessories; shoes would cost another Dh200 or even more, depending on the brand. Besides, socks, tiffin boxes and water bottles are additional expenditures."

She adds, "Then a parent must buy stationery supplies, which range between Dh150-200. All this is excluding the iPad or laptop purchase which you may have to invest in every few years."

Echoing similar sentiments, Lionel Augustine, father of three children, whose children go to The Oxford School Dubai, says, "One of my sons is in higher secondary school. This age group is smart. What I've noticed is they start circulating messages well in advance among their older friends regarding hand-me-downs. At an early age, they become 'cost sensitive' and understand their parents' struggles, particularly around this time of the year when schools are about to reopen and extra expenditures need to be incurred. So, they discuss among themselves what they will take or buy from each other instead of buying brand new things."

"Apart from that, they don't always buy textbooks which can be quite expensive. They share PDFs or photocopy stuff instead. But typically, if one were to buy new uniforms every year, it would easily cost Dh1,000-1,500 per child, depending on how many sets one is buying, whether one is buying PE (physical education) clothes or not. Sports kits can be an additional expenditure, apart from stationary, which is not usually a huge amount."

"But gadgets are obviously expensive purchases, and each child must have his or her own iPad or laptop. Second-hand electronic items are not always preferred as it may cause trouble later and damages are not visible immediately, though due to depreciated value that's certainly an option that can't be ruled out completely."


Most parents didn't have to spend anything significant on back-to-school purchases over the last two years as many schools, particularly in Sharjah, continued with online learning for an extended period due to Covid-19.

Pakistani expat in the UAE, Nighat, who has three school-going children, says, "My children go to PACE International School in Sharjah. The younger one always uses preloved items. Annually, I buy only one set of uniforms for my daughter. The sons invariably share. Otherwise, these back-to-school expenses can easily soar up to Dhs 1,000 per child and can go beyond, if they don't share or use preloved items."

"It is a strain on many parents who cannot always afford it due to varying circumstances. My children have always been very understanding and managed with hand-me-downs without any complaints."

More news from