18 February 2013

Cameroon: Free Basic Education - PTA Fee as an Obstacle

A report indicates that children are excluded or punished in public and private schools for not having paid their PTA levy.

Friday, December 14, 2012 was scheduled for the handing over of report cards in all primary schools in Cameroon. In a government primary school in Kribi town, in the South Region of the country, over a hundred pupils could not receive their end of term results. Their report cards were retained by the school's head teacher. The reason given by his office was that of non-payment of fees levied within the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

Recently at the Legal Aid and Citizenship Centre of Transparency International Cameroon, Peter M, a parent reported the headmaster of a certain primary school still in the town of Kribi, who withheld the report cards of his four children at the end of the first term because they had not paid PTA fees which amounted to FCFA 5,000 per child.

Nowadays, it is common to see children excluded from or punished in public and private schools for not having paid their PTA levy. Most of these fees are often fixed arbitrarily by head teachers or PTA presidents and imposed on all pupils. Whereas, the presidential decree No 2001/041 of February 19, 2001, provides that PTA fees are paid on a voluntary basis; pupils of public primary schools are exempted from the payment of any fixed annual dues.

In July 2011, Transparency International Cameroon released the results of a research on mapping transparency and integrity deficits in primary education in Cameroon. The report revealed that in 87.5 per cent cases, minimum package arrived late, 78 per cent, it was not sufficient enough while 70 per cent of schools judged it to be unsatisfactory. As such, in 57 per cent cases, it was noted that it could not address the needs of schools.

The report further revealed that 74 per cent of homes still consider PTA fees as compulsory and that the payment of extra fees for the construction of classes, revision classes and other activities are made compulsory by school heads. Sources at Transparency International Cameroon say the corrupt situation has not changed in most primary schools reason why early this month, they officially presented the second phase of their campaign "It's Time to Wake Up" with focus on communicational tools to help the public and media practitioners wake up and fight against corruption which is that cankerworm that has a stronghold on the free education policy of the country at the basic education level.

The Vice-President of Transparency International Cameroon, Njoh Manga Bell says it is time everybody particularly those in the educational domain, wake up and stand against those corrupt practices that hinder some kids from going to school.

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