Wednesday, 24 January 2018 03:41 GMT
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'Private education is just too costly for the common man'

(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) High tuition fees of private schools continue to be a growing challenge for parents and students in the Arab world, chairman of Emaar Mohamed Alabbar said during the unveiling of the Arab Youth Survey.

He said this after it was revealed in the survey that 51 per cent of Arab youth in the Middle East are "very concerned" about unemployment in the region.

He said governments in the Middle East are not doing enough to tackle youth unemployment and to improve the quality of education, which are essential to help them find jobs in the future.

"I'm very close to private educators and they suck the life out (of you) because of the fees. I mean, normal people can't pay that much. I don't know if education should really be private. I know that private schools have good discipline but normal people cannot pay that kind of fees," he said.

"It hurts me that a man cannot even afford to pay Dh2,000. He's the guy we need to help. The guy who can pay Dh50,000, I don't care if we send his kids to London to study, but what about the man who has seven kids and cannot pay a thousand riyals. This is where the pain is."

Alabbar said that governments in the Middle East are not helping in improving the quality of education or in tackling youth unemployment.

He said children, whose guardians cannot afford high costs of private schooling, often end up in government schools, ultimately "pushing them lower into society".

"In our region, institutions and governments have not managed well. They don't have the discipline to manage well, otherwise we wouldn't be where we are today," he said.

"Oil or no oil, there are many great examples in South America or Southeast Asia where great organisations and countries do so well. It's all about management. Even if you love your people as a leader, you need to have the knowledge and the right people around you if you are the prime minister or the president. This is a 15-year plan, you cannot fix education in one or two weeks.

"What worries me most is that those (parents) who can manage, they send their kids to private school, which means they are always safe. My worry is that the lower income, which is 80 per cent of society, they go for government education, meaning that it's pushing them lower in society.

"But I guess private schooling now is too costly for a normal human being. I don't like to blame government a lot - we have to contribute too. But when it comes to education, why are you in the government if you can't manage? So, unfortunately, governments have failed over a long period of time to really manage this sector to put in place a passionate plan."

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