October 24, 2003

Scandal - Education Rip-off

JC goes to a school called "Disneyland Educational Institution Pre-School Centre". It is many things, excelling in pre-school education blah blah blah. It is also horrendously expensive, but you can't put a price on your child's education, right? The teachers are all bright, fresh faced 20 something locals; the facilities are first rate and JC loves it. Every now and again she announces she doesn't want to go to school that day but these are few and far between. Let's face it, all of us have days we would rather stay at home and paint or ride the bike.

Today was JC's first school excursion. Each week we get emailed (this is a very tech-savvy school) the lesson plan. This week they are looking at autumn (they call it fall, but she will always call it autumn). They're also looking at Halloween, which JC's on her own on, because Halloween does not exist in Australia. Today's excursion was to the beach. I have no idea what the connection is. Mrs M went with the class. I rang to find out how it went:

Me: "How was the excursion?"
Mrs M: "We went to the beach, JC played in the sand and we came back to school."
Me: "Right, and what activities did the teachers run?"
Mrs M: "None. We went to the beach, played in the sand and came back to school."
Me: "..."
Mrs M: "You can't say three dots on the telephone."
Me: "That's stunned silence. Can you just repeat what you did at the beach."
Mrs M: "Sand. Shells. Sand castles. Shell castles. Then back to school and home."
Me: "I see. Does this count as a normal school day?"
Mrs M: "Not only that, we have to pay extra for the school bus trip to the beach and back."

I have already mentioned that this place is expensive. It caters to expats, which means the school charges like a wounded bull because most companies pick up the bill. In our case they pick up a (small) percentage. D'oh! It ends up working out that 145% of my monthly pay goes to paying the school fees. Then there's extras like uniforms, incidentals, Mrs M's time as class parent etc. I need to work 34 hours a day to pay for the fees. And then the family want to eat. I mean really where does it end?

By my back of the post-it note calculations, this trip to the beach has cost about $5,542.50. That's in US dollars. The numbers may be a little off, but basically today we paid for JC to do what we often do for free - go to the beach and play in the sand.

I'm thinking of posting an invoice to the school. But they won't pay anyway - they don't have a company package to pick up the tab.

Posted by Simon at October 24, 2003 05:01 PM | TrackBack

We face exactly similar problems.

Have three kids. Eldest being the teenager in ESF but the younger ones went to prestigious local kindergarten [also similar and costly and milking], then we put them in ESF, and finally wife decided to get them out of ESF and into local school!

Ripping off wasn't the concern for changing them to local school.

Problem was they are too young to switch between environments.

Must wait until they are in Primary 3 or 4 when we again send them back to ESF or similar.

And no... did not get the refund upon the change.

Now we are gearing up for school halloween parties (all three of them) for some afternoon.

How can one look scary in the afternoon?

One looks like a clown [and yes costly and milking].


Posted by: Ron at October 26, 2003 02:47 AM

My son has just started attending an ESF primary school. They ask for parents to come and help in the classroom, and I am one of the few Dads to do it. I do sometimes wonder about the logic of this when we are also paying school fees, but since I can spare the time (and find it quite interesting) I don't mind doing it.

In response to Ron, I have to say that I'd feel a bit nervous about sending my son to a local school given the fondness for rote learning in the local system.

Posted by: Chris at November 14, 2003 04:57 PM
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