BY ALEX DADAMU
THE Corona-virus pandemic has placed the country, people, and the school system in particular, in a very awkward situation – never experience in the past years.
In light of the situation, the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) Dr. Franco Rodie has sent out a circular instructing Education Authorities and school principals to allow all students in all schools to continue with their education or to attend classes despite non-payment of their school fees in 2020.
Dr. Rodie confirmed that the decision was made by the ministry’s senior management team following information received that a few schools may have started sending their students home simply because they have not paid their outstanding fees for this year 2020.
According to the circular notice, PS Rodie stated that the Ministry of Education (MEHRD) understands the challenges that schools throughout the country currently faced with the collection of school fees.
“These are unprecedented times and the COVID-19 threat has continued to make significant impacts on our economy and education sector. Disruptions to learning and teaching have already affected many students. The economic downturn of our country implies that our Government is not collecting the level of revenue it is expected to collect compared to the good times in the past hence, services provided by our government are being affected.”
Dr. Rodie in the meantime advised Education Directors/Secretaries and School Principals to consult parents, guardians, and fee payers so that an agreement arrangement could be discussed on how each school would deal with any outstanding fees that parents may have not paid to date.
The circular notice went on to suggest three (3) options that school principals or headteachers could discuss and agree on with parents.
Those are; Option 1: Exempt all students (for 2020 only) from paying fees for the remaining months till the end of the school academic calendar. For this option, the school principal or headteacher must tighten his/her school’s expenditure by making all efforts to cut costs and focus on better utilization of the grants on teaching and learning.
Option 2: parents to pay only a percentage (e.g. 50%) of the total fees for 2020. The amount determined must be by school administration and parents. The amount must be affordable and should not in any way put parents in an already difficult financial situation.
Option 3: Extend the period that parents should pay fees to the school. The proposition is that the period to pay fees should be extended to the end of the school academic calendar. Schools to review and consider the situation at the end of the school academic calendar to deal with those parents who may still be struggling to pay up their children’s school fees.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr. Franco Rodie has also confirmed on Sunday in a talkback show hosted that the Ministry is of the view that there are ample grants that schools can utilize till the end of the school academic calendar.
“Therefore, sending students home from classes or not to allow students to attend school till the end of the school academic calendar is not an option,” PS Dr. Rodie said.
PS Franco Rodie in the meantime advised heads of education authorities and school principal that the advice provided is enforced in accordance to the Education Act 1978 especially Part VII/Financial Clause 38(1 to 3) and Clause 40(1 to 2), Clause 41, Clause 42(1 to 2).