In today’s day and age, family planning is vital especially with increasing costs. One of the major costs we have to consider is the education of our children. As parents, if we don’t budget right, educating our kids can soon become a financial burden.

A recent report carried out in Saudi Arabia stated that 70 percent of Saudi parents wished for their kids to attend private/international schools because they provided a full English curriculum. This means, parents would have to pay higher than usual tuition fees to send kids to these schools in comparison to public schools. Therefore, as parents we need to weigh out the pros and cons of which system would work best for our kids’ whilst keeping our finances and quality of education in mind.

Overview on the educational system

There are two main kind of schools in Saudi Arabia, public schools and international schools, the latter is usually preferred by parents of other nationalities. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for primary and secondary schools to select from with syllabuses from all around the world. There are around 20 different kinds of curricula offered to students ranging from French, British to Turkish and Sri Lankan. Therefore, it is fairly easy to find schools which follow the same system as your home country.

If your child’s education is not part of your employment package than you will have to factor in all the costs related to sending them to school. Especially if you plan to send your kids to an international school as they can be quite pricey.

Amongst the private/international schools you have the choice of sending them to schools governed by home country embassies such as the American or British embassies. However beware that at times priority for enrollment goes to citizens of that particular country. It is wise to register your child well in advance to ensure they get a seat.

Cost of education

Most international/private schools charge an application fee which is non-refundable and starts from around SAR 500. Other charges can also include a registration fee, an entrance exam fee and a guarantee/seat deposit fee which ensures your child gets a spot in the coming academic year. Besides these initial changes, schools may also have additional requirements which will determine if admission is possible at all.

As for tuition fees, they can be quite costly for international schools. For American or British schools, the tuition fees can range from SAR 20,000 to SAR to 76,000 per year. Other cheaper schools can charge an estimated tuition of SAR 8000 per year.

Other yearly charges you will need to pay for are uniforms, books, food and drink, equipment for any sports or extracurricular activities and other miscellaneous costs such as school trips and year books. Also some international schools may require students of higher grades to bring in iPads and laptops for classes. Therefore, you will need to account for these costs as well.

Also think about whether you will need to pay for tutors especially if your child requires extra help after school hours. There are tutors in Saudi Arabia who can teach them but it does come at a price. Evidently the more experienced the teacher the higher the tutor fee maybe. However these prices can be negotiated and are usually based on an hourly rate. The range starts from somewhere between SAR 100 to 200.

All these fees and charges can overwhelm a parent. You always have the option of sending you kids to a public school. But beware, these schools might have specific requirements for which you child may not be eligible. You may also want ensure that the quality of education offered is up to your standard as many schools offer English as a second language and only after the 7th grade.

A recent statistics report released by Markaz, revealed that in 2012 the education market in the GCC was worth $ 60 billion and on average the GCC governments were spending about 3.3 percent of their GDP on education. This however is below the world average which is 4.4 percent. Fortunately though Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in the region by spending 5.6 percent of GDP on education and showing their dedication towards improving the standard of education for its citizens.