Government should set a limit on school requirements to curb abuse
Posted Tuesday, February 26 2013 at 02:00
Like many schools and parents countrywide, members of our rural-based church were excited when news broke out that two of the boys had excelled in UCE. One scored 8 aggregate and the other 12. This good news was followed by a moment of deep silence when their parents brought up the amount of fees to be paid by each child at A-Level.
A shocking amount not even paid at tertiary institutions per semester! Apparently, the boys have secured admission in prominent government schools in the central region. The government should not turn a blind eye to the way schools are managed, especially the amount of fees paid.
The cost of living, especially food prices and utilities, is now high. Most private schools rely entirely on parents’ contributions to develop school infrastructure such as Science labs, computer labs, dormitories, classrooms and buying books and other scholastic materials. Such requirements are quite expensive, so the government should find ways of funding schools, particularly those that have been established by community-based organisations and faith-based groups. Such schools belong to the citizens and owe proper accountability to them and can easily be monitored.
There are, however, government schools that already have such facilities but charge twice the amount demanded by even private schools. Is this a trick to get rid of children from poor families?
Similarly, there are private schools that keep demanding endless lists of requirements: hoes, brooms, slashers, etc. Stationery is collected at the beginning of every term only to end up being sold on the streets. All this, coupled with other issues such as the age at which a child should start school and the time spent at school, need urgent attention.
I urge the government to intervene and set a ceiling for school fees and all associated requirements, or else the cost of education will continue to rise. Also, to beef up the seed schools established under the UPE/USE programme, another category of schools should be set up - at least one in each district - and equipped with adequate facilities. This will help children who perform well but fail to join the so-called good schools due to lack of fees.