Back to school with a bang and a sigh

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Back to school with a bang and a sigh
By Daniel Bardsley, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS
Published: August 25, 2007, 00:24

Dubai: The phrase “back to school” has struck fear into the hearts of children for decades, but increasingly, parents as well are beginning to dread the beginning of term.

The reason that mothers and fathers become concerned when the new school year looms is financial: costs of many of the essentials of school life have increased significantly this year.

It is not just the well-documented rises in tuition fees that are causing financial headaches, but also hikes in the price of books, stationery and uniforms.

As reported this month in Gulf News, stationery is now more than twice as expensive as last year for some parents, thanks to increases in the cost of paper and other inflationary pressures.

Parents who used to shell out Dh200 to equip their children with pens, pencils, exercise books and the like now have to pay Dh450.

Increases in the costs of school items are a particular headache to parents already struggling with the rising costs of rent and other major expenses.

Peter Daly, headmaster of Dubai English Speaking College, said textbooks had become much costlier, although in the case of his school, parents do not have to buy them themselves.

“Textbooks are now quite a major part of our budget. I’d say [the increase] must be 10 per cent per annum,” he said. “We get our textbooks from the UK and in the last two or three years particularly they have become expensive.”

Similarly, with regard to uniforms, Alexandra Sacher-Clynes, director of supplier Wren International, said that the cost of materials had gone up considerably, as the company sourced from the UK and exchange rates had become less favourable.

She said the firm had absorbed this cost as its contracts with schools stipulate the price of uniforms, although other firms that are not locked into contracts have been free to put up prices.

“We haven’t increased the prices – we’ve taken the headache,” she said.

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