Is cost of schooling on family life actually worth it?
A while back in the middle of the summer vacation, I posted a joke on my public Instagram account that started conversations that lasted for days.
The responses and feedback I received were so intense that I had to dedicate a highlight story to the subject on my page.
My post, in Arabic, said: “The strongest pregnancy contraceptive nowadays is, school tuitions.”
Replies came rushing in and varied between people agreeing with and appreciating the humor, others recognizing the sad truth, but the vast majority sharing their misery, frustration and dilemma over the matter.
Speaking from my own experience, when it comes to picking a school for your child, while the options may initially seem many, the choices quickly diminish as you start looking around.
In trying to identify an ideal school for their children, many parents focus on criteria such as quality education, strong foreign language programs, the state-of-the-art buildings and facilities, and positive social environments.
The ultimate dream is to get all of that for free in a governmental school in each district but being realistic we would expect the above at a price that reflected the average citizen’s income. However, the sad reality is that the cost of school tuition has become so high that it is almost a joke, and it keeps on rising.
I attended one of Jeddah’s top private schools and the total amount my parents paid on the year I graduated was the same for nursery nowadays. By the time a child gets to high school, tuition fees can be almost as high as those for some foreign colleges.
How is that okay?
For the average family with three to four children, parent expenses can be split quite simply into life necessities and extras. Necessities include shelter, food, school, car, gas, clothes, medical costs, electricity and water, while extras range from after-school activities and weekend outings, to summer vacations and everything else in between.
But if the average person decided to tighten their belt and make their child’s education a top priority, would that education be enough? Over the course of a year, would a good school on its own compensate for other pleasures a child might be deprived of because of the financial burden caused by their education?
Alternatively, would a free, perhaps below-average educational experience in a nonprivate school, mixed with other supporting aspects throughout the year, create a happier, more rounded adult in the future?
Why are parents forced to take the risk of picking between the two?
My Instagram joke opened my eyes to the fact that parents, no matter what their income is, will always want the best for their children.
The fact that parents will take out bank loans and deprive themselves of such things as home improvements, furnishings and vacations, shows the strength, commitment and sacrifice they will make to ensure their child gets an education that will lead to a good job and income to support them through a comfortable life.
In aiming to achieve this, there is no doubt that for most families it imposes a negative impact on their quality of life.
Which leaves the pressing question: Is the education our kids receive at private and international schools actually worth all that?
• Sara Eyad Khashoggi is a mother of four children, and an Instagram blogger. Currently a business development manager at WTL creative studio.