x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

'The cost is very high and it increases every year'

Among parents who chose to send their children to public schools, 30 per cent said the cost of a private education was a factor.

Bose Baby believes his son, Leebo, is getting a good education in the UAE.
Bose Baby believes his son, Leebo, is getting a good education in the UAE.

ABU DHABI // Bose Baby, a 42-year-old computer hardware engineer from India, is largely content with the quality of education his child receives in the UAE. Finding the money for his son's school fees, however, can be difficult. "The standard of education is good," Mr Baby said, "[but] the cost is very high and it increases every year."

His experience is a common one 88 per cent of parents with children in schools or universities said education was extremely or a little expensive, according to a survey for The National carried out by YouGov. Mr Baby, who has lived in the UAE for five years, sends his 12-year-old son Leebo to Abu Dhabi Indian School. The fees come to about Dh7,000 (US$1,900) per year, and books and uniforms add another Dh1,000 in expenses for him and his wife, Lency, a nurse. They also have an 18-month-old son.

Mr Baby said a private school in his home country would cost about a quarter of what it costs here. While he was satisfied with the quality of schooling, Mr Baby said there were fewer opportunities for his son to have extra lessons outside school time than in India, due to the cost and availability of teachers. David Moore, 34, a teacher from Ireland, is pleased with the education his daughters Aaliyah, five, and Aisha, three, receive at the British School-Al Khubairat.

But he, too, said costs were high. "We feel it's very good. The curriculum is very similar [to Ireland] but the facilities and perhaps the ratio of teachers to students is probably better," he said. "But we also feel if the company didn't pay, it's expensive. The first year we have to pay ourselves, and we do find it expensive." Among parents who chose to send their children to public schools, 30 per cent said the cost of a private education was a factor. Forty-three per cent chose a public school because they believed it would offer a higher standard of education.

Fifty-eight per cent of parents expressed satisfaction with the quality of education in the UAE, and they were generally content with the details of life at their child's school or university. The majority were somewhat or extremely satisfied with teaching (54 per cent), the quality of campus facilities (64 per cent), the cleanliness of the premises (71 per cent) and transport (57 per cent). Parents whose children use bus services gave the safety of the service an average score of 3.6, on a scale where one is poor and five is excellent.

There were similar scores for cleanliness (3.55), air conditioning (3.42), punctuality (3.67) and the quality of the vehicle (3.54). There was less satisfaction with bus monitors (3.12), the availability of seat belts (2.58) and the cost of transport (2.51). There appeared also to be a problem with bullying. Almost half of parents (47 per cent) said their children had been bullied in the classroom, school bus or playground.

Half were satisfied with the availability of sports grounds or activities (50 per cent) and the range of subjects offered (50 per cent), and slightly fewer with the amount of extra-curricular activities (45 per cent). The survey also found a large proportion of parents have limited contact with their child's school or university. Twenty-four per cent said they visited only once every two to three months, and 16 per cent visited less often than every three months.

Two per cent said they had never visited the school or university their child attends. dbardsley@thenational.ae