x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Sharjah parents upset at fee-increase plan

43 private schools in Sharjah have applied to the Sharjah Education Zone to increase fees.

SHARJAH // Parents have expressed concern after half of the private schools in Sharjah applied to education chiefs to increase fees by up to 10 per cent.

The Sharjah Education Zone (Sez) has received applications to raise fees from 43 private schools, said Mohammed Ismail Al Zarouni, the director of schools and institutes department at Sez.

Among the schools to have applied for an increase are 34 private or semi-private schools that follow the Ministry of Education's curriculum or the American, British or French curriculum, while nine follow the Indian curriculum.

"Sez has set up a committee to evaluate the applications based on four conditions: the school infrastructure or buildings; the quality of education provided; the number of staff, both administrative and teaching; and lastly the community service," said Mr Al Zarouni.

"For a school to be authorised to increase fees it would have to score at least 70 per cent in all those fields."

Officials would not say which schools had asked for permission to increase fees until their requests had been assessed.

Mr Al Zarouni said that according to Sez rules, schools were allowed to raise fees by between 5 and 10 per cent annually.

Seif Ahmed, whose children attend a school that followed the American curriculum, said providing his children with a decent education was becoming more and more difficult.

"Already I am almost sacrificing all my income to have my children attend a good school, because it is very expensive," he said. "If they want to make it more expensive then what do they want us to do?"

Abu Maryam, another parent, said a rise in school fees also usually meant other costs - such as the school bus - increased too.

Badria Ibrahim Al Muain, the vice president of the Sharjah Parents and Teachers Council, said most parents wanted to see the increases being applied for by private schools reflected in the services they provided to their children.

"If a school can show to parents that they are hiring better teachers, installing latest technologies like computers and all the other services offered by the school would be better the coming year, they will all be willing to pay the increased fees," she said.

Ms Al Muain advised parents who had problems paying for their children in private schools to start considering Government schools as an alternative.

"Most parents are worried about their children not learning English in Government schools, but this trend has changed. There are qualified English teachers providing quality education in all Government schools in the emirate."

Hessah Al Khaja, the director of private schools section at Sez, said there were 140,256 students in 86 private schools in Sharjah, which included 17,062 Emirati students.

"Most of the Emiratis in private schools are in American curriculum schools," she said.

ykakande@thenational.ae