UAE is a fast growing country and this fact reflects in its financial stability and tax free stance. UAE houses approximately 3,420,000 Indian expats which makes it for 38% of its population. Living in Dubai is almost as expensive as living in Central London. If you are an Indian expat, chances are you will be spending a bombshell on the school fees of your child. But, nevertheless you can be smart about it! Dubai has ever increasing International schools especially catering to expats from India.
How much are the school fees in Dubai ?
School fees in Dubai for international schools can be anywhere from AED 12,723 to AED 64,093 per annum, not including additional fees for admission, transportation, school uniforms and books. So, a good school can range anywhere from AED 15,000.00. Since most of the Indians in Dubai live around Sharjah, it is good to look at a school in a similar locality.
Traffic is a Big Concern for Schools in Dubai
While fees can be looked into, don’t forget that Dubai is a very busy place to live in which means long hours of traffic and commute. The government is trying to ease this through the introduction of enhanced and increased public transport, but you don’t want your child to waste half their time commuting, especially for young children. If you are planning early on, you can find a school and then work your commute and housing around it. But if you are already living in Dubai then find schools that are near your locality or place of employment. This does not only save on time but also on the travel expenses that schools generally do not cover.
Plan Early for Admitting your Child in a Desired School in UAE
Since there are so many expats in the UAE, the schools are almost always full capacity. You might want to start exploring as early as a year ahead so you can research about the schools, get a sense of them and put your child on the waiting list since the waitlist is long and never ending. In case you have not planned, get your child to any possible school in UAE and apply for the desired school in the meantime. You may also want your child to take tuitions to prepare well for the school.
Primary and Secondary School Procedure in Dubai
While looking at primary schools or kindergarten, look at those that provide your child with a diverse environment and culture, yet have similarities to your homeland. It is very important to understand the cultural aspects of Dubai and respect it. There are strict rules about Ramadan, dressing, language, etc. It might take your child a while to adjust to the new surroundings, hence an International school in Dubai would be an excellent choice where your child can explore different cultures including their own and does not feel disoriented or lack belonging.
While looking at secondary schools, you should also check for procedures since most schools assess the students on some aspects to see if they find a fit, so prepare your child for the same. In most international schools, primary and secondary education flows seamlessly which means your child will not have to change schools.
Financial Support from Different Parties for School Fees in Dubai
Since education is an expensive affair in Dubai, and is not free for expats, you may want to consider different plans. A lot of schools offer scholarships to single girl children, siblings etc, so you may want to ask the school you are shortlisting about any such options.
Even when you shift to Dubai or work at a company since most of the industries are oil, travel, banking and entertainment based, ask them if they include educational perks. Some companies may even pay for your child’s education completely while others may have a limited amount capped above which you may have to arrange. Look at long term plans, loans and investments that will help your child have a stable education at school in Dubai.
Don’t Just Depend on the Face Value of Dubai Schools
While schools in Dubai are ever growing, it is important to not just go through impressive websites, but do deep digging about the school you want your child in. Try talking to parents of different schools, especially expats if possible. Join pages on different social media platforms like Reddit, Telegram and Facebook to interact with parents. Try to go to the schools and visit, see how they work and educate. You may also want to send in email to schools asking about their location, opening, procedures, fees, curriculum, extra curriculars, faculty etc. Do read reviews of different schools to get a deeper understanding.
Look at news articles since schools in Dubai have been accused of hiking fees by 70% and 30% through various added activities and charges. The government has however put caps on it between 16% to 20%.
You may also want to check lists of awarded schools, best schools, what their leaders and faculty are trained in.
Important Aspects of Curriculum to Evaluate Your Child’s Potential Dubai School
For kindergarteners, most schools follow Montessori, and for secondary they may follow Cambridge, International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme etc. Look at these curricula and see if they fit your child’s needs of development.
You should also look at how developed the schools are in terms of technological advancements and infrastructure. Some schools even have facilities of virtual reality learning, auditoriums, music rooms, science and english labs, etc. The infrastructure is digitally smart. Schools may also have their own portals for constant communication and growth progress of their students.
Look at how the schools instill soft skills, leadership qualities, commitment, individuality, community and harmony, ethics and kindness. Schools also take students on retreats, create an environment for physical games and sports and other extracurricular activities like coding, graffiti etc.
If you are an expat, especially from India, now is probably the right time to become inquisitive about the schools in UAE that can become your child’s potential second homes and learning grounds. It is a school that shapes the young minds of the future. Make sure you find your child a safe and secure place of growth and learning amidst facilitators that truly can make a difference in your child’s life.