Many parents in the UAE are increasingly opting for online tutorials from other countries, finding virtual classes to be a cost-effective alternative.

Parents say that one-on-one in-person tutorials for children can often be more costly, requiring them to spend thousands of dirhams when opting for classes at local tutorial centres or with private instructors - especially if they have two or more children.

With online classes, students do their learning at a mutually agreed time with the tutor, with private tutoring serving as a supplementary academic support system.

Last December, the UAE launched a private tutor permit for those offering lessons outside the school or college, in a move to curtail “illegal practices” and “regulate the sector”.

No time wasted in travelling

Speaking to Khaleej Times, parents explained how online tutorials makes learning support accessible to a wider audience.

American expat Naeema Zaki says, “People from different geographical locations or those with varying schedules can avail [these classes]. My seven-year old son takes online Quran class from Pakistan, and my daughters 10 and 12 take Quran classes from Egypt. My 12-year-old also takes maths classes based in India. ⁠I’ve opted for these purely based on recommendations from other friends. I am more likely to go for a teacher if I know a friend has already tried and tested and recommended [them]. Most importantly I don’t have to drive [the children] around for these different classes.”

Naeema stresses that in the past she was wary of individuals offering private tutorials at home as they were unlicensed. But now, with private tuitions becoming legal in the UAE, there will be a bigger talent pool to choose from, with the market becoming more competitive.

Affordability and convenience

“Online [classes are] way more affordable and convenient," says Naeema. "A face-to-face tutor requires time and space to work at home with kids in a quiet area... [in-person tutorials] are not suitable for small spaces that are normally busy. Besides, if [the tutors] have to commute to your house, you also have to pay for transportation. After Covid-19 I have become open to virtual options."

Earlier, Naeema spent Dh1500 monthly on in-person Quran lessons for her three children, but now, the cost has been reduced by half.

She emphasises that in the post-pandemic era, teachers have also gained proficiency in utilising technology. “For example, the Quran teacher shares the reading page online, marks the areas to track the reading, and circles areas that need to be repeated. That visual really helps my kids identify mistakes.”

With numerous options available, parents can find online tutors covering a wide range of subjects, including languages, arts, mathematics, and sciences, all at affordable rates.

Similarly, Abu Dhabi resident Zoya Shaikh's daughter, Mysha, receives online tutorials from India for maths and science, on a weekly basis.

Shaikh says, “If one were to hire a personal tutor for individual instruction at home, the cost would be Dh250 per hour. Alternatively, sending the child to a tutorial club would amount to approximately Dh150-180 per session. Personally, I favour larger packages for these virtual classes, that I take for up to three months at a time, which significantly reduces the cost per class to as low as Dh30. These block sessions include approximately 24-48 classes, depending on for how long one wishes to sign up."

“In addition, my daughter also takes French classes from a teacher in Morocco, and I pay Dh40 per hour.”

Supplementary support

Shukri Deria, an American expat in the UAE, who is originally from Somalia, has two school-going children in Grades 5 and 7.

She says that classes that occur one-on-one ensure the undivided attention of the tutor, helping them tackle issues better.

Shukri says, “In private schools, despite paying so much, there are also tutoring requirements needed on the side. We do online Quran classes from a teacher in Egypt and it costs us cost $5 per session (around Dh20 per month). It is economically more sustainable."

“Here, tutoring is anywhere between Dh250-200 per hour, whereas maths classes online that we do from India, are Dh37 per hour. My daughter also learns French from a tutor based in Morocco. English is taught by a teacher in the UK."

She says that for her children, English sessions are priced at £12 each, totalling Dh400 monthly. French classes have a monthly fee of Dh350, while 24 maths sessions are priced at around Dh900.

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