3 February 2013

Uganda: Fees Hike - Schools Can Help Parents


After the elation and excitement over the results of last year's Primary Leaving Examinations, attention now turns to the opening of the secondary school term for the senior one students.

As we report again today, many schools are raising the fees. This is especially so for the boarding schools. For many observers, this is not surprising. The cost of living remains very high, even though inflation has been steadily falling. This means that schools are finding it difficult to maintain standards of living and learning without demanding more from the parents and benefactors.

But while parents are expected to understand that the prevailing circumstances necessitate an increase in the fees, their situation will not make it easier for them to cope. For many salaried earners, their income has not risen with the cost of living. So, while the average parent is willing and eager to seek the best education for his/her child, the purse is weak.

Yet this should not cause despair among the youngsters, some of whom worked extremely hard with the sole goal of making the required grades to get admitted to coveted secondary schools. Now that they have met their ends of the bargain, schools and parents can cooperate to give children their dreams.

Our appeal is twofold: first, parents who do not yet have all the fees but are determined to help their children pursue their dreams, should not hesitate to negotiate with school heads for grace periods within which to pay up the balance.

Secondly, we urge school heads to listen kindly to parents thus seeking help, knowing that quality education should not be a preserve of those with lots and lots of money. Every time examination results are released, we get stories of excellent students who perpetually qualified to be called "fees defaulters".

Such students owe their success to their toiling parents, but also to considerate head teachers.

Thirdly, when the school heads are considerate, parents should do everything in their power to clear balances on schedule, remembering that schools can't run without money.

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