As expats in Saudi Arabia will know, the Kingdom sadly doesn’t allow expatriate children to attend government-run schools. With the different language – not to mention the alphabet – many expat children would likely struggle, and so international schools which are taught in English are the most common solution to this problem.
Of course, because these international schools aren’t funded by the government, expats will need to pay for their children’s education privately. These school fees though are starting to cause alarm among the expat population, and are leading some children to be pulled from school.
According to experts, private international schools in Saudi Arabia have begun to increase their fees by up to 30% in the last year. The fact that all the better-known schools are following suit means that it is difficult to find reasonably priced schools. Parents claim that many of the schools are raising prices “just because” – and assuming that parents will pay the fees and suffer in silence.
The reality, it seems, is something rather different. Many parents say they are struggling to meet the raised fees, some even admitting that they have borrowed money just to find their children’s education.
For some, though, the costs have spiralled out of control and are no longer viable. In such cases a growing number of expats are removing their children from school altogether, either to home school them or to move to another country where education is more reasonably priced.
According to the latest figures an estimated 300,000 expatriate children have been pulled from Saudi schools recently in light of these fee increases, as prices spiral out of control while standards fail to improve.
The problem seems unlikely to improve soon. A Saudi committee determines the tuition fees that schools may charge so even governmental interference is likely to have any noticeable effect.
Concerned expats are encouraged to speak to their employers, to discuss whether school fees might be included in their benefits package. Expats are also encouraged to plan ahead for the cost of schooling, putting money aside to pay for such activity. In the worst case scenario it may be necessary to either home tutor (if the option is available) or seek employment elsewhere.