By Vanessa Vassiliou
My husband recently travelled and rather than enjoying the TV to myself at night and doing some pampering or catching up on sleep, I decided to look at what it was going to cost us to educate our twin girls who are now two and a half. What a mistake!!!! A quick glance at some schools in our area and found out that on average, the education fees will be around Aed 850,000 per child to go to school from FS1 to Year 13. This left me unable to sleep and has me questioning how we are going to manage it.
Feeling confused, anxious and alone I posted on the Real Mums of Dubai Facebook group and was saddened but yet relieved to see that I am not alone in this situation.
It has been noted that schools can increase their fees between 2.4 to 4.8 percent next year. The percentage rate can rise in amount depending on the schools’ Knowledge and Human Development Authority rating. With schools and nurseries already being some of the most expensive in the world here in Dubai, this makes for a big financial impact. However, just because a school CAN raise their fees doesn’t mean they will. Let’s cross our fingers from now.
Parents all over Dubai are burdened by increasing education expenses of their children. A squeeze on jobs is forcing parents to look for less expensive schools. The recession is said to not have taken full hold yet but will do so middle of 2018. Many parents are opting to put their children straight into FS1 in a school setting avoiding the high nursery costs.
Holly Bennie co-founder of the Real Mums of Dubai group says, “We relocated to Ras Al Khaimah for the school fees and my husband commutes to Dubai for work. We wanted to stay but wouldn’t have been able to without getting massively into debt and we didn’t want to go home, so we found a compromise that works and allows us to still save.”
Many people only have 1-2 months salary in their savings, if any at all. Mums, Stephanie Hughes and Lynn Hathaway both say their whole salaries go towards education and childcare. Lynn is also “Trying to find a nanny to reduce nursery days to save some money.” It seems more people are electing 2-3 days of nursery for their children and creating more playdate groups at home. Personally, I am thankful to live in a community where the mums are willing to host play dates at home and meet up in the parks instead of going to play areas that are also costly and there are only so many times I want to go in a ball pit or fly down a slide ungracefully.
In a city where rent has to be paid a year up front, deposits need to be made for everything, more people are dipping into their savings, using credit cards and asking schools for payment plans. More mums are opting to do the school runs in order to save on transportation money as school buses, uniforms, books are not included in tuition prices.
Fellow twin mum, Christina Sofopoulou says “For this year we can manage to afford to send them 4 days a week. But the company of my husband will cover less than half after they are 3. I see no light in the tunnel unless I work or go back home.” It is now no longer a given that jobs will provide education for your children, in fact, the vast majority of companies no longer contribute.
I find myself being like a walking calculator in the supermarkets these days, adding up as I go, buying two for one, looking at discounts, using club cards and being as careful as I can. Mum Rebecca Van Dock says “I am extremely prudent with spending, upcycle and buy second hand. Meal plans to save money on supermarket shopping and use DEWA as little as possible between 12-6pm.”
News schools could be offering more discounts and payment plans as a way of increasing their enrolment. I’ll be looking for my children to go to “the big school” in September 2019 when they are four and I will certainly be looking into some new schools that have opened or are due to open in the near future.
Next time my husband travels I shall be reaching for the TV remote instead of the calculator.