New Era (Windhoek)

14 January 2013

Namibia: Parents to Be Refunded School Fees

Windhoek — Parents should not pay School Development Fund contributions for primary school this year and parents who have already paid in advance are entitled to a refund, the Ministry of Education has announced.

Insofar as stationery is concerned the ministry said parents who have bought stationery for the year should not return the stationery, but must use them for their intended purpose. All existing agreements between parents and primary schools for parents to buy stationery should be honoured for this year only. "As from 2014, the Ministry of Education will take full responsibility for the provision and procurement of stationery to all primary schools," Alfred Ilukena, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

The ministry announced last week that learners at public schools, from pre-primary school to Grade 7, do not have to pay school fees or buy textbooks and stationery and are not obliged to contribute to School Development Funds (SDFs) anymore. The directive goes into effect immediately with the commencement of the 2013 school calendar year, as announced by government last year. The Ministry of Education has already sent out the guidelines for the implementation of the free primary education directive.

Education inspectors will monitor the implementation to ensure that support is provided to schools that need it. Cabinet has already made available N$50 million for the initial phase of the implementation of the Universal Primary Education drive, and the money will cater for close to 460 000 public school learners. In addition, the government will spend over N$100 million during the 2013 academic year on textbooks, of which about 75 percent will go to primary education.

The N$50 million makes provision for an anticipated estimated 3.5 percent increase in school enrolment expected as a result of the decision to introduce free Universal Primary Education.

"With the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE), in line with Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution, Namibia is expected to meet its commitments to achieving UPE, including the UNESCO Education for All [initiative] and the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015," the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi, said about the latest development welcomed by many parents. However, parents with children in primary school hostels are still under obligation to pay hostel fees. "Free universal primary school has no attachment to the payment of hostel fees," said Ilukena.

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