(MENAFN - Arab News) School fees for the children of expatriates are too high, say the families of children at fee-paying international schools in the Kingdom. While education is free for Saudi nationals, the children of expatriates face rising school fees.
On the relatively low salaries of many expatriate workers, the increasing fees are causing real hardship to families in the Kingdom.
Local government schools rarely admit foreign students and when they do, it is generally from other Arabic speaking countries.
Some expatriates, usually the highly paid, will have educational fees for their children funded by their employers. The rest have to shoulder the burden themselves. To ease the strain of payment, many negotiate installment payments with their chosen school.
On top of high school fees, which usually have to be paid in full in advance of the school term, textbooks alone can cost more than SR1,000. In addition to this, the cost of transporting the children to school adds to the burden.
Although the Ministry of Education controls foreign schools, it does not control the level of fees. That decision lies in the hands of the management of the school and they cite many reasons for the increased cost of educational fees varying from rent increases by the landlord to the demands for pay rises by the teachers.
"Education is the best investment and needs to be given priority whatsoever," says a Bangladeshi parent, Zahir Ul Haque.
Haque sends his three children to a leading international school and makes sure they have private tuition as well, even though he gets paid a modest salary. Education comes first in his case and he wants his children to get the best education they can get.
"All our income earned is spent here in the Kingdom itself. We are unable to give a luxury life to our family with the rising costs we have to bear on our own," he said.
"Educational fees, at least, must be paid by our employers, especially because we cannot afford to bring up a whole family with our small salaries," said Mohammed Akram, a Pakistani parent who works as a technician.
Akram sends his son to a private school and pays a fairly nominal amount covering both tuition and transportation fees. He cannot afford to send his son to his country's community school because of the high tuition and transportation fees.
By FADIA JIFFRY