House Unhappy with Hike in Graduation Fees

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The House of Representatives has mandated its seven-man Committee on Education to engage the Ministry of Education on the outcry of parents and guardians over the high graduation fees charged across the country.

Reports indicate that as the school year comes to a close, students from high schools in the 15 political sub divisions must pay almost US$200 each to attend their graduation, which excludes optional extras like photographs.

Some schools have made the graduation fees mandatory, which is unaffordable for many students.

Sinoe County lawmaker Matthew Zarzar, who served as Deputy Minister for Education, is expected to advise Plenary on or before Thursday, July 21, whether or not the prevailing cost of a graduation ceremony is acceptable.

On Thursday, June 30, the House unanimously mandated the Education Committee to investigate the matter, owing to a complaint from Montserrado County lawmaker, Munah E. Pelham Youngblood, to look into the issue.

“It is with clear evidence that schools within the Republic of Liberia are now charging per student US$105 and up to US$230 for a high school graduation,” Rep. Youngblood wrote.

“Fellow colleagues, you may agree with me that time is very hard and parents these days cannot afford said graduation fees, whereby a child who has worked for over 13 years cannot be able to participate in the graduation ceremony. In view of this, I write to seek unanimous support from this august body mandating the Ministry of Education to put an automatic hold on the entire graduation fees payment process throughout the country and to also bring the Principals Association to a round table discussion at the Ministry of Education level so that this matter can be addressed as soon as possible.”

According to documents obtained by the Daily Observer, most schools are “requiring” all seniors to pay exorbitant fees for gowns and caps, certificates and their covers, program sheets, including the cost of bringing two guests, and project costs.

Some schools are also charging ‘optional’ fees for seniors’ class nights.

Documents show that fees vary from school to school, with the least being US$100.

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