Since the commencement of the process of registration for the next academic year on Monday, July 16, 2012, parents, guardians and self-sup[ported students continue to experience difficulties in mustering the means and funds in adherence to the mandate of the Ministry of education. Such public outcry and difficulties are a result of the arbitrary increase in tuition and other fees at the various private and ‘church’ schools in Monrovia and its environs.
Without the intervention or acquiescence of the Parents Teachers Associations of almost all of these private and ‘church’ schools, fees have been increased by more than a hundred-percent with school administrators/authorities demanding seventy-percent payment during the ongoing registration process.
Interestingly, in most of these schools there are payments for insurance separate from medical fees with no justifications, while student ID Cards ( not computerized) and strings are increasingly priced at between LD$200 to $300 and LD$100 to LD$150, among others. Attempts by parents, guardians and self-supported students to transfer to other reasonable schools may lead to the payment of between LD$1500 to LD2500 for transcripts and a few other documents.
School administrators/Principals may have relied on the support of their respective school boards for such unrealistic and corrupt decisions amidst fear of opposition from the Parents Teachers Associations due to the current economic situations confronting parents and guardians. As a result of the situation, many self-supported students may join others whose parents or guardians cannot afford the arbitrary fees in either delaying registration or staying away from school for this academic year.
The irony about this untimely decision is that when these extraordinary fees are paid, schools authorities deliberately refuse to ensure that students receive their money’s worth. At times, uniforms and other materials paid for are either delayed until months into the academic calendar or don’t provide them at all. The justification recently provided by the Ministry of Education, through its Director of Communication, on a local radio talk show in Monrovia further re-enforced the arbitrary actions of private school owners and their so-called boards.
According to MOE Director of Communication, the decision by proprietors and administrators of private schools was “justifiable in the right direction’. He said while the Government of Liberia was paying its teachers satisfactory salaries and huge benefits, private schools in the country needed to do likewise.
Further justifying the actions of private schools, Maxism Bleetan noted that the increment in tuition and other fees by private school owners would afford them to pay their teachers better salaries and other benefits as is being done in public schools so as to maintain them.
In essence, the Ministry of Education is in acquiescence with what many parents and guardians are referring to as the “broad day robbery” being perpetrated by proprietors and authorities of private schools in Monrovia and its environs.
Such justifications by the Ministry of Education further suggest the vast interests it has in most of the private schools either through ownership or membership of the boards of these private schools. This, we believe, is a complete conflict of interest and an embarrassment to the entire Government of Liberia.
It has now become a challenge for us at the New Dawn-Liberia and those of other media institutions to naming officials of the Ministry of Education who run private schools or members of the boards of private school.