Liz Perelstein – School Choice International
One of our clients identified a new emerging economy where operating their business would save considerable money. In this new region property, local labor, and running the plant promised to cost only a fraction of the price of similar variables in their current location. In order to get the new plant operating successfully, they needed to move 100 families for up to three years to train local employees on their processes and corporate culture.
About to embark upon a group move of the initial families, unanticipated costs surfaced. The company had previously implemented a policy where it moved families as locals rather than as expats. As a result, international schools were not budgeted for the current move. This was a good decision in the previous location. However, in the new country, local residents use private schools whenever possible. While local private schools may not be as expensive as international schools, they are still a significant expense for a move of 100 families.
Before moving into a new country, learn about the culture of schooling and the impact to your budget.
In some countries, public schools educate the “top” local talent – only students with “problems,” or those who are unlikely to succeed in the public sector attend private school. In others, public schools have poor records of educating students. They may even have chronic union problems, facilities issues, or other structural troubles that deplete the government run educational system on an ongoing basis. In these areas, parents may use private schools when possible and send their children to public schools only if no alternatives are available.
To identify your educational costs for a group move, picking a location where state schools are viable for local middle class (and higher) residents is a good first step. However, it is still important to ascertain whether these will be appropriate for non-native families. Once you have determined the overall culture of public vs. private schooling in your proposed location, compare the school systems that your families are coming from with those they are going. Are the curricula similar or will children have a hard time adjusting in the new location – as well as repatriating – if they do not attend home national schools? And finally, are the schools familiar with overseas children so that the transition is reasonable? Do they work with new families to ensure that the experience will be both academically and socially worthwhile?
If schools are aware, willing, and able, a local education in expatriate destinations can be immensely profitable for many children. But if you do not ask the right questions before the move, you may find that you have grossly underestimated your costs, or otherwise find yourself with many failed assignments.
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