Expats in Saudi Arabia are complaining about the high costs of private school fees and a lack of government run schools which forces them to take the fee paying option.
They say that the vast majority of foreign parents are either unable to find a place for their children in public schools or cannot send them for various reason and it is an issue that officials don’t have much appetite for addressing.
They also point out that for families with more than one child the high fees are becoming a burden which many cannot afford.
Although a major overhaul is needed, they believe that the schools themselves could help by introducing fee paying structures including payment on a term by term basis or monthly installments.
One parent said that he asked to pay in installments and was told that if the full sum was not forthcoming his daughters would not be admitted. ‘The continued hike in fees every year, especially for intermediate and secondary schools, is complicating life for us. Some of us may not be able to provide our children with education, which is a God-given right for everyone,’ he said.
Fees in some schools are around SR5,000 per child. One school, the Hala International School in Jeddah has increased its fees to SR6,500 from SR4,800 last year for grades one to three. The fee for grades four to six has been increased from SR5,400 to SR6,600 and for grades seven to eight from SR6,600 to SR8,500.
On top of this parents face paying more for transport and for extra activities such as music and sport. They also say that the cost of uniforms and equipment are also rising. Some parents say they have been charged the full transport fee for September despite the fact that schools don’t open until the 25th of the month.
The aggrieved parents want the Saudi authorities to intervene and regulate the fee structure in private schools. Rafa Binladin, deputy chairman of the private schools committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said all private schools should collect tuition fees in two installments. He said he would look into the complaints.