Fee increase to hit parents as salaries of Saudi teachers are raised

Fee increase to hit parents as salaries of Saudi teachers are raised
Updated 26 August 2012

Fee increase to hit parents as salaries of Saudi teachers are raised

Fee increase to hit parents as salaries of Saudi teachers are raised

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education will start implementing the decision by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to issue a new contract that forces private schools to pay Saudi teachers a minimum of SR 5,600 a month.
The decision was issued in June of 2011, where the Human Resources Fund will pay 50 percent of teachers’ salaries only for the first five years.
“The law, in cooperation with the Human Resources Fund, will come into force from Sept. 2012,” said Mohammed Al-Dekhaini, spokesman of Ministry of Education.
He added: “The education sector is the primary source of employment for Saudis where more than 60 percent work, of which 84 percent in private education. Saudi teachers working in the private sector should be accorded special attention and support to commensurate the nature of their profession and their role within general education.”
According to Al-Dekhaini, the new contract will ensure the rights of Saudi teachers and increase job opportunities for more than 39,000 Saudi teachers.
Al-Dekhaini told Arab News that many private schools would start increasing fees, which happens annually.
“Every year we notice an increase in student fees. This year the situation will be different as school owners might raise the fees more than before. The MoE will try to set a system that controls fee increases and defines the increase that schools are allowed to ask for,” he said.
Students’ parents have expressed fear over this decision due to which many schools will ask for additional fees claiming that they are paying higher salaries to teachers.
“Most schools will try to benefit from the decision and ask for dramatic fee raises,” said Somaya Fawaz, a Saudi mother of three whose daughters are studying in private schools.
Somaya expressed her worry that the schools where teachers already receive more than SR 5,000 would ask for a raise, as they would not accept the same wages that pre-date the decision.
Hatem Al-Saiegh, a Syrian father of four kids studying in private schools, stated that such a decision would encourage private schools to raise fees and claim that they pay higher salaries to teachers.
“Once this takes effect, the number of ‘illegal schools’ that hire teachers on low salaries will increase. Many families will start searching for schools with low fees,” he said.
He added: "Private schools are more influential than government-run schools especially for kids. As an expat, I prefer to pay higher fees every year to ensure my kids receive quality education. Unfortunately in the Kingdom they increase fees and claim that they boost their techniques of education while in reality they don’t.”
On the other hand, school owners claim that every year, school budgets increase by 30 percent due to inflation and an increase in teachers’ salaries.
“The King’s decision will only cover Saudi teachers. This will no doubt invoke feelings of inequality and resentment amongst foreigners who will in turn ask for an increase. As a school owner who cares about quality of education, I have to increase the expat teachers’ salaries too as they are highly qualified and have worked with us for over 20 years. Students’ fees will increase in line with the teachers’ salaries,” said Um Adnan, an owner of a private school in Jeddah.
Nadera Sha’aban, principal of a private school in Jeddah, said such a decision would undoubtedly force the management to increase salaries of expat teachers, which will certainly affect the school budget.
“The salaries of expatriate teachers are so low that they are right in looking for an increase. We have to be fair with expat teachers as hiring qualified teachers on these salaries is next to impossible,” she said.
She added: “Families who are looking for better education have to pay higher fees so we can ensure that the quality of teaching remains high.”