2 December 2012

Tanzania: Urgent Intervention Needed in Private School Fee Rip-Off

A SURVEY conducted by 'Daily News' last week at some private schools in Dar es Salaam has exposed a great deal of rule-bending on the part of the owners of the schools.

The survey shows that in its last fee structure the government directed that boarding secondary schools should charge 380,000/- per year for a student and 150,000/- for a day 'scholar'. However, the survey has established that schools charge between 1.2m/- to 6m/-. While the survey sampled seven schools only, it discovered that there was uniformity in some schools, the majority of which charge an average of 1.6/- per year.

In some schools however, front desk personnel refused to divulge the information, saying their department of finance deals directly with parents wishing to enroll their children. We believe this was nothing but a clever way of attempting to dodge giving information that would expose a bad conduct to authorities and the public.

In all the schools surveyed, none possessed a document showing that the administration had permission from the government to charge certain amount of fees. In other words, the owners of the schools have been hiking fees with impunity. Yet, parents don't have much choice.

Their concern is to ensure that their children are well educated. As such, they are ready to sacrifice the little they earn to achieve this goal. It thus serves no purpose for those who hide vital education information. In the end, the public will get it, come what may. What must have stunned most readers of the survey is the amount a parent has to pay annually, which is over and above the government's proposed fee structure.

Granted, the government's last fee structure was released ten years ago, but there is no justification for school owners to take advantage of the gap and squeeze parents to their last breath. We ask everyone to consider if there is any logic for school owners to demand 1.6m/-, 2m/- , 3m/- and 6m/- for secondary school education in a poor country like Tanzania. What do they offer to students that warrant so much money?

Are they performing some miracles to transform the dullest students to brilliant and active secondary school leavers? Are they not just charging overly because of greed and pomposity? If secondary education costs so much money, how about college and university? We understand and even appreciate the fact that owners of private schools have made a great deal of contribution to the education sector.

They have offered parents with a better alternative of education for their children in a different environment that somehow fits into modern teaching standards. However, it is sad to say that parents might be forced to regret sending their children to private schools because if the trend of hiking fees continues unabated, soon they might fail to pay the non-controlled fees. To get back to the right direction, the government must step in to stop this crazy fee hiking before it is too late.

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