Latakia: Nursery fee is equivalent to employee’s salary for two years
Latakia – Linda Ali
The 32-year-old Nada was surprised by the increase in the annual wages for childcare nurseries in the coastal city of Latakia, as registration fees rose by more than 120% compared to last year.
Nada, a housewife, said that the annual nursery tuition rose this year from 1.5 million Syrian pounds, including transportation fees, to 4.3 million Syrian pounds. ($1=13,450 SYP)
Nada has two children; the first is in the second grade, and the other is entering school next year, and he must be qualified this year within a nursery.
But the mother announced her surrender after asking three kindergartens near her residential area in the Tishreen suburb, which is considered one of the average neighborhoods and the closest thing to the slum lifestyle.
The annual tuition prices for the three kindergartens ranged between 3.2 million pounds and 4.3 million pounds, including transportation fees.
The woman does not have many options, and she told Enab Baladi, “It is one option. I will not send my child to kindergarten this year, and I will try to tutor him and teach him the principles of writing at home. Where will I get this amount?”
Lowest tuition is 2.5 million without transfer fees
To confirm the prices, Enab Baladi’s correspondent contacted three kindergartens in the city of Latakia without revealing her identity as a journalist and received an offer from the first, which is located in the Awqaf neighborhood near the Agriculture neighborhood and whose annual tuition amounted to 4 million with transportation, and without it, 2.5 million pounds.
The owner of the childcare nursery said that the fee is subject to increase if the price of diesel increases and that it does not include the price of the kindergarten uniform, which amounts to 200,000 pounds.
The second kindergarten is in the first project (al-Mashrou’ al-Awal) neighborhood, and it has a different system, as it charges the registration fee in monthly installments and not in one payment, at a rate of 125,000 pounds per month without transfer, and with transfer the monthly installment increases to 525,000 pounds per month, and the payment of 250,000 pounds is added to the installment as cost of stationery for the entire academic year.
As for the third kindergarten, it was on Al-Makateb Street, near the Immigration and Passports Department, with an annual tuition fee amounting to 4.3 million pounds, which is equivalent to approximately two years’ salary for a government employee.
The minimum monthly salary for public sector employees in Syria is about 185,000 pounds (about $15), an amount that is not enough for even half the monthly payment for a private kindergarten in the city.
“Should we throw away our children?”
“What do we do, throw our children into the street?” With these words, Musab summarized his inability to register his two children in kindergarten.
The 35-year-old man works in a government institution within the city of Latakia, in addition to working as an accountant in a café in the evening so that he can support his family, which consists of a wife and two kindergarten-aged children.
“He works for approximately 14 hours a day, and no one can even buy food,” Musab said with a sigh, adding, “Is it reasonable that after all these long hours at work, I am still unable to place my two children in a respectable kindergarten?”
Musab earns about 700,000 pounds per month (about $50) from his government work and his work in the private sector, a number that does not even suffice the family to eat in light of the current wave of high prices.
“Unfortunately, I made an unfair balance. I either feed my children a little or send them to kindergarten. I chose to feed my children. God is sufficient for us and the best disposer of affairs in this country and its authority,” Musab said.
Taking the child to work
The situation is no different in the Al-Thawra neighborhood in the city of Latakia, which is an average neighborhood in terms of prices and lifestyle, where Afaf, 28, faces a major dilemma.
She is an engineer in one of the public sector directorates, and her lifestyle and work force her to put her child in a kindergarten while she is at work.
The mother has not yet succeeded in finding that kindergarten. She asked one of the kindergartens that was not more than 400 meters away from her home and received an offer for registration in the amount of 3 million pounds, excluding transportation fees.
“The kindergarten director told me that the transportation fees will not be less than 1.5 million pounds annually, as the driver is asking for two million pounds, and the kindergarten owner is trying to reduce it,” Afaf said.
The problem for Afaf is that her salary, which includes compensation and incentives, does not exceed 300,000 pounds, and it does not cover her daughter’s kindergarten tuition.
She is also not allowed at work to submit her resignation or give her leave without pay, and this increases the burden on her.
Despite the difficulty of the idea, Afaf decided to take her 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter with her to work in case she failed to find a kindergarten with a suitable fee.
The mother has no other choice, as her family lives in the central city of Homs, and her husband’s family lives in the countryside, and there is no one with whom she can entrust her child.
The Ministry of Education set kindergarten tuition fees last year without amending them for this year yet, as the annual tuition ranges between 50,000 pounds and 350,000 pounds, noting that the kindergarten tuition last year amounted to about 800,000 pounds on average.
Education Ministry does nothing
The director of a kindergarten in Latakia city, who preferred to remain anonymous, believes that the Ministry of Education’s pricing is completely disconnected from reality.
“The monthly salary of each teacher she has in the kindergarten is 350,000 pounds, so how can wages and other expenses be covered with such a monthly installment,” she says.
According to the kindergarten director’s assessment of the reality, she believes that the Education Ministry does not want to embarrass the government with the issue of salaries, so the monthly installment is not raised in proportion to the general situation in the country, so it leaves it low.
At the same time, kindergartens are allowed to take what they want, as they are best able to set wages based on their expenses, according to the director.
Although kindergartens exist and their advertisements fill the streets, and anyone can obtain all information about the value of the tuition, the Ministry of Education does nothing to prevent violations, as kindergartens raise the tuition to more than ten times the price of the Ministry of Education, which confirms the existence of a state of leniency with nurseries owners.
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