Saudi Arabia: Parents continue to complain about the continuous hike in local and international school fees, which rose to SR22,000 at the primary level in private schools per year, and SR30,000 at international schools.
The unhappy parents call these high fees exploitation and greed on the part of school management and wonder why the Ministry of Education is not taking any step to check school authorities.
Saudi parent Muhammad Saleh said: “What will a parent with more than a son and daughter do? How can he afford high and continuously increasing expenses? We will have to move to government schools.”
Another Saudi, Ahmed Abdul Rahman, said private or international schools do not have the modern tools or environment needed for a scientific education. But it is under this pretext they justify their inflated fee rates.
Saudi mother Mona Hamdan said: “I sent my daughter to an international school because of its proximity to our home. But now school fees have been raised to a level that I cannot afford. But to move her to a cheaper school would be hard for the girl because she is accustomed to the style of her school and a transfer to another school would harm her studies.”
Another Saudi said private schools demanded various other fees such as a registration fee which is as high as SR3,000 annually.
Umm Ayah said a service fee, apart from tuition, is paid but virtually no special service is provided. Air conditioners are broken down most of the time and buildings are not properly maintained.
However, the principal committee for tuition fees under the Ministry of Education issued a circular to the owners of private and foreign schools that they should register tuition fees on their websites to the tuition fee program, whether the fee is to remain unchanged or liable for increase. In the case of schools that have been issued permission to raise fees, they have no right to apply for a fee hike over the next two years. This stipulation is applicable to private schools, day schools, night schools and foreign schools.
Any increase in tuition fees in private and foreign schools, without the permission of the commission, is illegal and will be canceled, and schools that flout the commission’s orders will be penalized.
The principal of a private school justified higher fees at his school. “The operational cost for classroom equipment, cost of maintaining hygienic specifications, alterations to a rented building, school maintenance, security, air conditioning, advanced warning system, fire escape, electricity bill and especially salaries of employees have shot up to very high levels,” he said.
He added that on top of it, teachers’ salaries in private schools have doubled from a minimum of SR3,000 to a minimum of SR6,000 per month.
He said private schools are graded as A, B, C depending on the facilities, such as playgrounds and swimming pools, available in them.
© Arab News 2015
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