By Maria Gregoriou
AKEL and an association representing parents whose children attend private schools are calling on the government to pressure private schools to reduce their fees by 10 per cent.
Representatives of AKEL and its general secretary Andros Kyprianou met last week with representatives of the Private Schools Parents Association to discuss a number of issues, of which a reduction in tuition fees was top of the list.
“The minister of education should take immediate initiative, just like he did with private universities, and meet with all private school owners and suggest a reduction in fees, which should be around ten per cent,” AKEL’s education office chief, Christos Christofidis told the Sunday Mail.
President of the parents association Stella Kamitsi said that one of the most important matters that the association has focused on lately is that of tuition fees as the economic crisis has made it increasingly difficult for parents to pay for their children’s education.
“We need to be able to regulate this matter urgently and moderate the law on private schools to enable the ministry of education and the state to exercise sufficient control over fee regulations,” she said.
While parents would welcome an across-the-board reduction in fees, government regulations may not be necessary. The vast majority of private schools have been quick to respond to the new economic realities by offering a wide range of discounted fees and cutting costs – largely through a cut in teachers’ salaries.
Among those schools acting proactively is Nicosia’s FalconSchool. In its secondary school, for example, fees have been reduced by €650 a year, a saving of almost 10 per cent for some grades. Sibling discounts have also been increased from 10 to 15 per cent for the second child and the discount increases according to how many family members attend.
Parents can now also pay fees in four installments while an extra discount is available for those pay in a lump sum.
“Even though we have reduced our fees we have not increased the class sizes and we never exceed 20 students in a class,” deputy head of school, Anthony Balkwill said.
“Our increased sibling discounts are maintained even after older siblings graduate.” He said cheaper fees were not the only way the school was helping the parents.
“We are also trying to cut down on books, stationary and the use of paper by making the information electronic,” he added.
The EnglishSchool is offering a seven per cent discount on all classes except sixth and seventh forms.
“The fees for the sixth and seventh class are already low and the cost for the school is more because at these levels the students decide which GCEs they will take and there are fewer students in a class,” chairman Antonis Valanides said.
The Grammar School in Nicosia and Limassol is also offering discounts, mainly for higher classes. Extra discounts are given for parents who pay the fees in a lump sum and for those families with more than one child at the school.
“All private schools are having problems at the moment due to the economic crisis but this does not mean that the standard of the school is slipping. We are doing our best to continue to offer the best standards of education to as many students as possible,” said headmaster of the Grammar School, Andreas Afamis.
The SeniorSchool in Nicosia is offering a €1,000 discount for the first academic year, a 13 per cent discount on a second sibling in the school and a 50 per cent discount for the third sibling.
“There will also be a special offer of a seven per cent discount for the school year 2013-2014,” said chairman of the JuniorSchool and SeniorSchool board Nick Papandreou.
“These are all positive steps that are being taken to sustain the school as we are a non for profit organisation.”