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IPER report alleges corruption in schools’ registration fees

By Lincoln G. Peters 

Research conducted by the Institute for Policy Evaluation and Research (IPER) in Bong and Lofa County has uncovered alleged huge corruption at the Ministry of Education and public high schools in the respective counties. 

The research focused on public schools’ registration fees. Some months ago, IPER with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) embarked on a study to determine the pressing issues that Liberia is confronted with.

It emphasized the accountability of public schools’ registration fees and the findings were released at an elaborate program held in Monrovia on Friday, 23 February 2024.

IPER Executive Director Jacob Flomo said the study finds that there is no written policy governing the collection, utilization, and management of registration fees in the country. 

He said the Ministry of Education (MoE) in 2019 called on all schools to collect registration fees and transfer them to the ministry through a consolidated mobile money account managed at the ministry’s central office in Monrovia.

“Also, there is no record that systematically outlines the policy, details its objective, or outlines the method for documenting and accounting for fees,” he said. 

“The lack of documentation results in limited transparency in the registration fees collection and management process,” he indicated.

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The research also finds that public schools are charging extra fees, adding that nearly all respondents in the study, both in the quantitative and qualitative research studies indicated being charged extra fees outside of the prescribed registration fees announced in 2019 by the Ministry of Education.

Mr. Flomo said for those who participated in the KIIs and FGDs, the combined extra fee charged per academic year sums above L$ 10,000.00 and for participants in the quantitative survey, the amount averages more than L$ 2,000.00. 

These figures fall far beyond the payment required by the MoE.

Furthermore, the report pointed out that schools don’t report on their annual operations to the Ministry of Education through the District Education or County Education Officers.

It said limited accountability for fees paid could undermine the stipulated objective for the collection of registration fees. 

“The research finds that citizens’ involvement is very low in school management decision across the study counties,” he said. 

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