Dubai, UAE: Twenty-one nurseries have raised their fees for the next school year, but one request for a 64 per cent increase was refused.
Increases must be reviewed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which licenses more than 380 nurseries. The ministry approved the requests but capped the increases at 30 per cent.
“We give them approval after we see what is the reason or the result they have,” said Moza Al Shoomi, director of the ministry’s child department. Acceptable reasons include raising staff salaries, professional development training costs, an increase in rent, moving to a new building or upgrading facilities.
Eight of the nurseries that applied to raise their fees were in Dubai, and 13 in Abu Dhabi. The lowest increase requested was 3 per cent and the highest was 64 per cent.
Local nurseries typically charge per term, with three terms during the school year. Fees can vary widely depending on the number of days a week a child attends, and the hours per day. Typical hours are 7am to 2pm, with additional charges for longer stays.
The annual total can add up to more than Dh30,000, often with extra registration and medical fees.
Kids Academy nursery in Khalifa City A increased its fees by about 13 per cent, with the bill for five-day attendance from 7am to 2pm rising to Dh12,350 a term.
“It’s all about keeping the children safe and improving standards, but unfortunately that has to affect raising the costs,” said nursery director Samantha McClements.
The increase was necessary to fit a new sprinkler system, train staff and maintain appropriate staff-to-child ratios, she said.
“We want to make sure we abide by all the new regulations and ministry requirements. Also we’re spending a lot of money on staff training and development, which is really important.”
One mother at the nursery did not notice the increase at first because her employer pays the fees.
“If I was paying it, it would be extremely painful,” she said. But she is generally happy with the nursery.
“I feel they have more quality to offer, but it’s expensive.”
Other nurseries are keeping their fees the same this year after raising them in the past.
Dreamland Nursery in Sharjah increased its fees by about 10 per cent last year, but will not change them this year, said manager Rula Abu-Lughod.
The fees are significantly lower than those in other emirates, she said, with tuition for children aged 3 to 4 set at Dh5,900 a term.
Four programmes in Dubai run by Beautiful Minds Nurseries will also keep their fees the same this year, said director Bernadette King-Turner.
“We had ours increased in April 2009 and then again last summer, so that was after three years. So we’re not looking to increase them for a while now. It’s not something you do every year.”
The reasons they increased fees in the past was simply “to pay the bills”, Ms King-Turner said.
A ministry plan to rate all nurseries according to government standards and post the grades online has not yet begun.
Announced in 2010, the rating system is going forward, but the strategy is still under development. Ms Al Shoomi said she expected it to be complete by the end of this year.