Government should intervene over school fees structure

Saturday March 06 2021
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Candidates report for second term at Kisubi Mapeera Senior Secondary School in Entebbe in February. Schools and parents are embroiled in a row over the payment of fees as the new term starts. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA

By Editor

Government on Wednesday officially released a revised school timetable which indicates a three-year staggered opening of learning institutions as they try to stabilise the academic calendar and return to the status that existed before the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world and paralysed different sectors of the economy, including education institutions. 

According to the revised calendar, while other classes will study  for only one term to conclude the 2020 academic year in July, the ministry of Education has given special consideration to sub-candidate classes of Primary Six, Senior Three and Senior Five, who will break off for two weeks on May 21 and return on June 7 for a special term to cover the content that could not be studied during the lockdown. 
Thereafter, they will sit exams for promotion to the candidate classes. 

The first term of 2021 academic year will begin on August 9, 2021, and the children will study for 12 weeks, breaking off on October 29. 

The students will then come back on November 15 for the second term and study for another 12 weeks which will spill over into next year and close the term on February 4, 2022. 

The 2022 academic year will then start on May 16, 2022, and end on August 5, 2022. Students will then report back for second term on August 22, 2022, and break off on November 16, 2022. 

The third term will start on January 2, 2023, and stop on March 24, 2023.
A close look at the school terms show that some of the study calendar will be shorter compared to when they would have operated under normal situations prior to Covid-19.
 
Therefore, the fees charged should not be the same. With some parents finding themselves out of employment and others suffering salary cuts or having their businesses close shop, several parents are now in distress and are likely to face challenges of paying school fees.
This might be the perfect time for government to directly and actively get involved in streamlining the fees structures in schools. 

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We do understand the stress schools are going through too, but a balance must be struck for the benefit of all. 
Government needs to indicate what aspects of the continuous learning they can support in schools, including negotiating on behalf of parents what should be the dues for every term as we get back to the normal.
 
This aspect should not be left to the school proprietors only, since it’s also the role of government to take care of its citizens and provide services as well.

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