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Editorial: Attention to High Arbitrary Fees, MoE

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Monday, July 16, 2012 officially marked the beginning of the process of registration for all primary and secondary schools in Liberia as required by the Ministry of Education. In this registration process, it is incumbent on students and parents to ensure payment of the first installment of tuition in addition to uncountable fees as registration requirements, including “computer fees” (in some schools).

What is most shocking about this academic year is the arbitrary increase in not only tuition fees, but those of the various private school requirements by either a hundred percent or more to the amazement/surprise of parents just at the time of the beginning of this calendar for this academic year. In their various justifications for the high increase in fees, private school authorities, mainly in the Paynesville municipality are citing attractive salary payment to their instructional staff just as those of the public or government schools.

While private school authorities may want their teachers and other instructional staff to be at the same level with government-paid teachers and principals, such increments are not only abrupt and unbearable, but very exploitative to parents, guardians and self-supported students. More interestingly, but annoyingly, compulsory fees for  information sheets, as well as transcripts for students have all been increased by more than a hundred percent due to the fear harbored by the private school authorities of losing students as a result of the very high increase in tuition and other fees.

Apparently, this decision seem not to be with the acquiescence  of most members of the Parents Teachers Association or PTA of these private schools as evidenced by their bitterness and frustration with school principals just prior to the commencement of registration. Moreover, when some of these fees are paid as registration requirements, schools authorities deliberately fail to ensure that students benefit. At times, uniforms and other materials paid for are delayed until months into the academic calendar before settlement. These are complete “broad day robberies” by proprietors and authorities of private schools, especially in the Paynesville area.

Of more concern to parents, guardians and self-supported students are the conspicuous silence of the authorities of the Ministry of Education on the situation. Whether or not the decision by private school authorities to abruptly increase school fees received the approval of the Education Ministry is yet to be made publicly known. Be that as it may, the intervention of the Ministry of Education is still important and necessary in this matter. Its intervention must be in the form of investigating the abrupt and arbitrary increase school and other fees by private schools without its advice and consent, considering the fact it is the regulatory body of educational facilities in Liberia.

The attention of the Education Ministry must actually be drawn to such exploitation in the Liberian school system. Individuals and churches may nowadays be running these schools for excessive profit-making with the inflicted impressions of measuring up with those of the public schools, other than the primary objective of impacting knowledge. It is expected that the ministry will act, if and only if the decision by private school authorities, most especially in Paynesville to increase all fees by a hundred or more than hundred percent.

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