Dubai private schools increase fees again, despite minor progress


Many parents in Dubai began receiving notices that tuition fees will be increased for the 2014/2015 academic year. This is a result of the annual school inspections conducted by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau which found that eight schools improved their overall performance. However, most educational institutions showed little or no progress in providing better quality of education. Bear in mind that according to the latest reports by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, UAE students scored approximately 20% below international average.

Last year, most of Dubai private schools weren’t allowed any fee hikes, but this year, they are permitted to increase the tuition based on the Education Cost Index (ECI), which on average has been calculated at 1.74 percent. As a result, institutions which were ranked as “outstanding” will increase the fee by 3.48 percent, while those in the “good” category are allowed to introduce a hike of 2.61 percent. Schools, rated below “good” can increase the tuition by 1.74.

According to the results of the annual inspections, no school has declined in its overall rating, but those that improved are only eight out of 158. In comparison, last year’s ratings revealed improvement in 10 schools and a decline in 8 institutions. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority is seeing little or no progress overall, with most of the private schools remaining in the mediocre categories. While only 12 schools are ranked as “outstanding”, 57 are “good” and 64 are “acceptable”. Of all private educational institutions in Dubai, 8 received “unsatisfactory” ranking. In addition, 70 schools, or half of them, have no progress in comparison with last year and remain in the “acceptable” and “unsatisfactory” categories.

However, the KHDA report highlights that the number of Emirati students that receive better education has risen by 10 percent. This may sound like a positive trend, but looking at the whole picture, things are more complicated. The authority says that besides the inspections carried out by the DSIB, schools also had to prepare self-evaluation reports, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses. Interestingly, most of the institutions actually overestimated themselves, putting heightened ratings. So, the report recommends that private schools in Dubai should focus on improving the quality of teaching, which will help students perform better.

In addition, disciplin should be much stricter not only when applied to students, but to teachers, school administrators and investors in the sector as well. Education is primarily seen as a big business in Dubai.

Besides the poor teaching, inspectors also found low knowledge of Arabic both as a first and as an additional language. This again, comes from wrong and ineffective teaching practices and “repetitive styles”. As a whole, teachers are unable to motivate and engage students, which play a huge role in the education process.

Meanwhile, schools claim they need to increase the tuition fees, in order to maintain some normal revenues. But claims seem to mismatch expectations and real facts. The main concern for parents in Dubai remains – they need to pay more, while receiving the same poor-quality service in return.

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