Schools will not be allowed to hike fees

Parents will heave a sigh of relief as the Education Minister Hamed Al-Azmi issued a ministerial resolution extending the validity of the previous resolution number 10/2018 suspending private school tuition fee hikes for the year 2019-20.

There will be no increase in school fees for the coming school year 2019-20 as requests made by private school owners to increase their schools’ fees were rejected, and they were further warned that legal actions would be taken against them in case of increase school fees in violation of the ministerial resolution.

The decision included a halt on fee increase for all private schools (American, English, bilingual, French, private Arabic, model Arabic, Indian, Pakistani, Filipino and the private Iranian school), and the fees of 2017/2018 will continue to be implemented. The last fee increase was in the year 2017 where the ministry permitted a three per cent increase in fees for private schools.

Many schools increased fees that year after which the ministry has suspended schools for increasing fees for the second straight year. In 2016 the National Assembly approved a recommendation stipulating that all fee increases by private schools must be suspended immediately until a parliamentary committee reviews the issue with the minister of education.

The recommendation was passed following strong criticism by MPs against a number of private foreign schools that unilaterally raised their fees before obtaining a permit from the ministry.

The government accepted the recommendation, adding that the ministry had formed a committee to study the issue of fees at private schools. In case fees are increase contrary to the resolution, the school will be warned in writing to reverse the violation within 30 days. All additional fees collected will have to be returned otherwise all school transactions will be put on hold at government departments.

Parents have been complaining of the sharp increase in school fees for the past couple of years and the halt in the hike of fees bring a relief to parents even if only temporarily. According to The Report, published by the Oxford Business Group (OBG), the rising demand for private schooling has attracted investors closing the supply and demand gap.

In the past decade parents have increasingly turned to private primary and secondary education creating significant room for growth and foreign investment. OBG also noted that in terms of growth in established English-medium international schools Kuwait ranked fifth in the wider Middle East after the UAE, Saudi Araba, Qatar and Turkey, but ahead of Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. From 2010 to 2015 the number of private schools rose from 460 to 507 and enrollement therein grew at a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%.