Dh2,000 for school field trip: Dubai parents divided over rising costs of student activities

International trips can cost Dh15,000 or more, a parent revealed


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 11:26 PM

While field trips are a regular occurrence in private schools across Dubai, parents hold varying opinions about these 'educational outings'.

Some argue that they are costly and duplicative, as similar experiences are often part of family outings. On the contrary, some parents emphasize the significant educational benefits.

Khaleej Times interviewed a diverse group of parents, revealing what led to this clear division in their perspectives.

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Kazakh national Karina Shashkova whose children go to Sunmarke School Dubai said, “I personally think it is a good idea. I don’t have to spend my time taking the kids out on a city tour if many of the iconic places are covered by the school. They have socio-cultural benefits. Besides, if a child is left out while other classmates are having fun, it upsets them. So, I feel why not send them."

"Sometimes we spend Dh100 on a coffee and a croissant, then why can’t we spend the same amount or a little more for our children where they would have fun with their friends once a term?” added the parent.

However, she stressed that the expenses become prohibitive for parents with multiple children, especially when they plan to visit a site in a different emirate that requires an overnight stay.

“My oldest one is in Year 5, and he is going to Ras Al Khaimah where they will be hiking, camping, swimming, and indulging in a host of other activities. The school is charging Dh2,000 for it. So that pinches a little. That’s because one can do ten such trips for that kind of money. Although it’s optional, you don’t want your child to be left behind, so my son is going for it,” said the mother of three kids.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) stipulates that specific permission for every trip is not required by Dubai schools. However, these field trips must be woven as part of the curriculum, with tangible learning outcomes.

The education regulator also mandates that schools must do a recce of the site for risk assessment purposes before students are taken to these locations.

Institutions should ensure that all student trips and events are beneficial, safe and in the best interest of the pupils.

Indian expat Arijit Nandi whose son goes to an ‘Outstanding’ rated IB school in Dubai, explains why he isn’t always completely in favour of these trips.

“My son is in Year 3 and his school fee is already over Dh60,000. The tuition fee will anyway keep increasing year-on-year. Apart from that, we have expenditures related to bus fare and uniforms. But occasionally I perceive the inclusion of such field trips, particularly to places children have already visited with their parents, as unnecessary. Last time my child’s school was taking them to a well-known gym."

As a parent, Arijit didn’t see much value to the trip which costed Dh170, so he decided not to send his son. Nandi explains it’s not always about money, but the overall assessment of ‘worth’ often involves a broader perspective.

He shared that despite trying to explain the situation to his seven-year-old son, his little one returned home upset.

“After coming back from school, he told my wife that he was among the minority group who had to stay back and study. Sometimes, children feel embarrassed and hurt if you don’t allow them to go on such field visits, which to us at times are indulging in excess. Needless to say, everyone perceives it differently. That is why often parents are forced to relent."

"My son’s upcoming school trip is to Legoland which we’ve already visited, but this time we paid Dh190, as he has been repeatedly reminding us of the same. So the value of such trips vary depending on the context, goals, sometimes even the child’s emotions and the price of the trip.”

Lebanese expat in Dubai Sera Refai said that her daughter, currently in Year 2, has so far experienced minimal and reasonably priced field trips, capped at Dh50. Her son, in KG 2, has not yet participated in external trips. However, she anticipates costs increasing as they progress to higher grades.

The mother whose children go to DIA EH said, “The other day, I was having a conversation with a bunch of friends whose children are in higher grades, in Year 7 and above. I learnt that camping excursions and international field trips though optional, can run into several thousand dirhams. ‘Abroad’ trips to places like Singapore or other countries can cost Dh15,000 or above. Everybody has a budget and many families may usually have more than one child. The facilities you provide to one should ideally also be extended to the other. As children grow, these school trips become costly.”


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