Condo says while it sincerely acknowledges the numerous challenges the government faces, it is about time that the government, on the other hand, directs its focus towards finding more policy solutions that will alleviate or somehow contain the overall costs for education at least within semi affordable range for the poor parents.
“There is no doubt a mountain of challenges on the way to make public schools adequately competitive and accessible to every Liberian child as a matter of human right, however, we equally believe that there is nothing stopping the government to formulate and enforce policies to control the excessive levy of unnecessary costs on parents in the name of fees and requirements which are in some cases far higher than the actual tuition,” asserts Kabah M. Trawally, Executive Director of Condo.
“Everything that constitutes tuition is now being fragmented into various sets of fees and more. Parents are obliged to pay unjustifiable fees such breakage, handbook, uniform, outfit for PE, library and even courses like computer studies - mostly undelivered - on the yearly basis. Condo believes that we don’t need a rocket science to know that these fees are very exploitative and their continuous increase at the back of difficult economic hardship poses serious threat to social harmony and national reconciliation,” Mr. Trawally further asserts.
In a press release issued in Monrovia, the US based peace advocacy group, in its advanced recommendations, wants a single, and affordable format of Physical Education (PE) outfit for all schools to be accessible on the general market not produced by schools and that all insurance against breakage be abolished and replaced with one-off deposit fee for a new chair or repair that is renewable only when the depositor (student) broke his/her chair.
Other recommendations of the group include:
- The abolishment of the compulsory, yearly purchases of school handbook by every student and replace it by one handbook per parent or new student unless it has been updated;
- Abolishment of all extra fees for computer, laboratory and Library; for these are not extra services for what parents pay tuitions for, as some schools are in constant habit of collecting these fees without delivering;
- Allocate regular subsidies to private schools and cap fees and tuitions; this will fulfill some level of indirect redistribution of national revenues by keeping extra cash in the parents’ pockets,” Condo further recommends; and
- Withdraw the certificate from any school (s) found condoning the practice of teachers’ appreciation fees and create school monitoring taskforce to ensure full compliance to the new policies.
Meanwhile, Condo believes that these recommendations reflect genuine Pro-Poor approach that will save parents millions of dollars and keep more children in school and hopes that the GoL via the MoE will give them due consideration in a bid to ease the rising financial burdens of education on parents in the country.