… Students paying more than GOL’s stipulated fee
The Kendeja High School, located along the ELWA road in Paynesville, appears to be involved in the collection of extra fees other than what the government, through the Ministry of Education, stipulated.
Most of the students the Daily Observer spoke with said they were paying L$6,000 each for registration, but issued receipts for only L$3,000 of the said money.
The students, who spoke to this reporter on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the school did not give any reason for providing them receipts for only L$3,000 when they paid L$6,000 upfront. When the Daily Observer visited the campus on December 1, 2021, the Principal, Ms. Vera Smith Lawson, could not confirm or deny the collection of the L$6,000 but said that the school was responsible for L$3,000 and the balance of L$3,000 collected came by directive of the Parent-Teacher Association.
“What the government-mandated us to collect is L$3,000 for registration. This is why we issued receipts for the one we are responsible for,” she said. “The PTA is responsible for the collection of the other fee and also has their assigned registrar to do the collection."
This year, the MOE issued a strong mandate to all public schools, mandating them to collect school fees with the following instructions; students from grade 1-6 should pay L$1,000 for registration; grade 7-9, L$2,000; and 10-12, L$3,000, respectively.
Ms. Lawson explained the PTA collects the money to carry on development and provides salaries for security as a means of strengthening the security on the school premises.
She asserted the government stipulated fees goes strictly to the account of the MOE and it excludes Physical Education (PE) T-shirts, neck ties and other uniform items. Therefore, from what is collected by the PTA, L$500 goes to cleaner salary, L$500 to security, L$500 for PTA project, L$1,000 for PE, among others.
Ms. Lawson explained that the PTA brought in one Alma Jallah, a female, to coordinate the collection of the extra L$3,000 upon instruction of one Louise T. Wesseh, PTA chairperson and also head of PTA Montserrado Education District # 1.
When contacted, Alma Jallah refused to comment, arguing that she was not clothed with authority to speak. However, her boss, Ms. Louise T. Wesseh, admitted in a mobile phone interview to the collection of the extra L$3,000 with the intention to underwrite some projects including what was stipulated above.
She said they started the collection prior to the government’s mandate and they also put a halt to the collection with immediate effect. Yet, she could not say whether the students who paid their money were refunded.
The mandate prohibits any principal or PTA from collecting any other fees, warning that any teacher caught will be dismissed and compelled to restore said money to the students. Some principals have been suspended and compelled to refund the monies they took from the students.
The Kendeja High School has three components; the elementary, junior and senior high divisions, each having its own principal. But some of the students also alleged that they also paid an entrance fee of L$1,000 before enrolling to the senior high division, something Principal Lawson denied, saying they collected the minimal fee of $500 for entrance fees.
She said even though they were coming from the same Kendeja school but under different administrations and to ascertain their standard, it requires entrance examination.