Confusion reigns over ‘Covid-19 school fees’

24Jun 2020
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Confusion reigns over ‘Covid-19 school fees’

​​​​​​​THE government yesterday warned school owners who want to benefit out of the Covid-19 pandemic by forcing parents to pay schools fees for the three months when students were not in schools.

Dr Leonard Akwilapo.

In an interview with ‘The Guardian’, Dr Leonard Akwilapo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said the government was aware of some people who are taking advantage of the situation.

He said: “This is intolerable and the government will not allow this top go unchecked. All people who are behind this should stop immediately as punitive measures will be taken against those who go against the government’s directives.”

Dr Akwilapo insisted on the use of wisdom between school owners and parents over paying fees for children in the post Covid-19 reopening after complaints that schools are demanding too much from them, contrary to ministerial directives.

A number of parents who send their children to private schools have raised concern that they are forced to pay premiums above what they were suppose to give before the pandemic broke out.

“This matter is so simple that it can be solved in 30 minutes if the two sides (parents and school owners) take it positively.”

“You know the problem is that each side is pulling towards itself. The government directed school boards to sit with parents to reach a consensus sensitive to the interest of everybody and we expect that to happen,” he stressed.

Parents should also agree that schools are opening up and fees will be needed, he said.

Some parents who spoke to ‘The Guardian’ said they had received notices from schools which show that they are supposed to pay school fees for the time their children spent at home.

Some said that they are being pushed to pay an increased amount of fees, but to their surprise the notices do not give a breakdown and reasons for the increase.

One parent said that he is forced to pay 1.5m/- in fees between June and November, including three months when his child was at home. “I’m supposed to pay 900,000/- from June to August and 600,000/- from September to December.

It is the same annual school fees I was required to pay if it wasn’t for the outbreak of coronavirus,” said Michael Kayuni, a city parent.

 “I’m wondering why I pay school fees when my child was at home. He didn’t use any school facilities. We’re paying for what?” he queried.

He urged that the government intervene in the situation, taking into account that there are many parents who have lost jobs and businesses due to the pandemic.

“I have a child at a private school in Dar es Salaam. I was supposed to pay 900,000/- but I have received a notice that I am supposed to pay 1.2m/- without telling me in details what the increase is all about,” said one parent who declined to be named.

A school owner in Coast Region sent a message to parents urging them to pay the school fees in full upon arrival come Monday next week.

“There is no change on the fee for the remaining half of the academic year. If you have paid any advance at the beginning of this academic year 2020, then you are expected to clear any difference as shown on your invoice. We hope you understand that school fees cannot be re-negotiated in any way as school management operations and tasks have to be carried on by all means,” reads part of the message.

“We clearly understood government directives, but some schools are still demanding that children should carry sanitizers and water pales contrary to the directives,” said Moses Lupa, another parent.

The government has allowed schools to reopen on June 29, setting off a flurry of activity as households prepare to send their kids back to class.

Prof Joyce Ndalichako, the minister for Education, Science and Technology had on Tuesday last week assured parents that they would not be required to pay fees for the time their children spent at home.

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