As normal academic activites are expected to be going on now, reopening of schools in Nimba County seems to be dragging due to what many parents considered as financial constraint preventing them from paying the fees of their children especially in the private schools.
Currently, the admission process in the schools is very slow, with classes yet to resume due to the high registration and other fees.
During a tour by the Daily Observer, it was realized that most schools in the commercial city of Ganta were without many students with some not having students at all. Some were noted to have registered less than 50 students and are yet to fully open because students are not registering.
Many parents who spoke to this paper said that school administrations are requesting for full cash payment of the registration fees before admitting any child, despite the government mandating all schools to accept student on pre-registration basis to allow the parents prepare.
Some information sheets in possession of the Daily Observer indicate that some schools, especially the two leading faith-based schools in Ganta— Ganta United Methodist High School and the St. Lawrence Catholic have increased their registration fees to 100%, but the tuition remain the same, while some schools, such as Ganta YMCA and Hope Academy amongst others didn’t have any increment in either registration or tuition fee.
“Despite the high cost of living and economic problem due to COVID- 19, school fees continue to rise daily, especially in the faith-based schools,” said Karyea Tiah, a guardian.
“Last year, I paid about L$6,000 for registration for my cousin in the high school session of the Catholic School in Ganta, and this year the registration has gone up almost 100%, that is L$12, 270 and the tuition still remain as L$20,000,” he added.
In public schools there are unspecified amounts charged for registration per student in the form of PTA project fees, something that is scaring the parents to register their children.
Effort to get the view of the principal of John Wesley Pearson High School, Mr. Nyan Tyler Goanue Jr., could not materialize.
There was no information on the bulletin board of the school regarding the stipulated government fees for public school, especially for those at the secondary level.
When contacted, the County Education Officer of Nimba, Moses Dologbay, confirmed the slowness of opening of schools in Nimba, citing some factors such as economic problem and little awareness on the change of the academic calendar, which coincided with Charismas and New year seasons.
However, he said all schools have been instructed to allow students on pre – registration basis to allow the parent adequately prepare financially, warning that any school that failsto adhere to the mandate will face the consequences from the government.
“Our registration fee for Ganta United Methodist School is over L$15,000, but the administration is asking us to pay at least L$7,000 as pre – registration,” said a female student.
Most of the private or faith-based schools are finding it uneasy to cope with the pre-registration system, because they too rely on the fees collected from students to run their various institutions.
“Rev. Thompson Nyormie, a proprietor of the Kings’ Institute, said “It is from this pre-registration we are able to pay our teachers at the end of the month.”