By Tina S. Mehnpaine
In preparation for the commencement of the new academic school year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has commissioned a taskforce clothed with the responsibility to address situations of abnormal hike in school fees for public schools across the country.
The task force is expected to initiate engagements with education stakeholders, including secretariats of private and faith-based schools to ensure that schools remain honest and desist from exploiting parents and guardians.
According to the statement from MOE Facebook page, the task force is authorized to review and analyze private schools’ current information sheets in comparison with what was charged in the last two years and report any abnormal hike in fees to the Senior Management Team (SMT) of MOE with recommendations.
“The ministry is warning all private schools to desist from exploitation, and if an administrator is found over-charging students that person will immediately be dismissed,” the statement added.
The exercise will also cover inspection of Public Schools to ensure no public school charges any additional or extreme fee other than the approved amount agreed by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) intended to support the school system management.
“It is agreed and endorsed by the MOE in consultation with education stakeholders as requested by the PTA to charge the following fees accordingly by level, Early Childhood Education (ECE): LRD 3,500, Primary: LRD 1,000, Junior High: LRD 2,000, Senior High: LRD 3,000, respectively,” the statement said.
The statement further said that the MOE will work with private schools to ensure that there is no increment in school fees, warning further that it will penalize for unjustifiable additional fees that do not correspond with the service provided.
Dionysius M. Doamua, Principal of the Police Academy Public School, said over time he has worked with the Ministry to implement whatever fees they would come out with. He said the task force set up could not have come at a better time than the ” COVID-19 crisis which has brought a setback to everyone, especially single parents.
“The Government with a heart of sympathy has decided to reduce school fees for parents and guardians,” he stated.
Doamua said the move to commissioned the task force is welcoming, and he hopes that all public schools will work in line with the government’s mandate.
Meanwhile, a private school principal has also welcomed the move by the Ministry.
Alexander Worgee, Principal of the Amos T. Taybior Institute (ATTI) in Bassa Town, Red-light, said before the MOE set up the task force his institution had reduced 25 percent in tuition payment.
“Considering the financial constraint currently facing the country, my institution has reduced tuition at an affordable cost,” he said.
He said his institution has begun working with parents and guardians to make sure students are in schools for the coming year.
“We have encouraged all parents to send their children back to school even if they cannot afford the full amount, we will still help them to be in school and give them enough time to pay their school fees.”
Alexander said his school has been a great help to the community and as such this is the time that parents and guardians need the institution.
“We are parents too, so we understand the current financial crisis and we have remained committed to extending helping hands to our community, even during this prevailing economic situation,” Worgee said.