14 January 2014

Rwanda: Schools Want FARG to Pay More

Schools should charge government-sponsored Genocide survivor students fees substantially higher than the current flat rate ceiling, to meet the school demands, head teachers have said.

The Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) supports students with scholastic materials, Rwf 70,000 flat rate per term for students in boarding secondary schools and Rwf 35,000 for day scholars.

For some schools, especially government-aided schools, this fee is the same as that paid by other students.

But for many others, especially private and technical schools, the amount differs from what other students pay.

The head teachers argue that the school fees should reflect the cost of education for a student, and pointed out that 'FARG students' form a bigger percentage in their schools.

The head teachers were speaking during a meeting with FARG officials last week.

"We get very little money from FARG yet we teach technical skills that require expensive training equipment," said Alphonsine Murekatete, the director of ASPEJ-Muhazi, a technical school.

ASPEJ offers Computer Sciences, Accountancy, Tourism and hospitality, and Construction. The school has 900 students, with 400 of them sponsored by FARG.

They receive Rwf 70,000 per term per FARG-sponsored student, while the rest pay Rwf100, 000 each.

Murekatete said: "We have to feed the students and build infrastructure. The money FARG gives us does not cover these costs. We are making no profit."

Jean Claude Niyitegeka, from College Bethel, in Ruhango, Southern Province suggested that FARG should pay the same amount of fees paid by other students.

His school has 850 students, including 400 sponsored by FARG. The FARG students pay Rwf 70,000 while the rest of the students pay Rwf 90,000 per term.

"We hope FARG will understand our concern because we are in good working relationship," he said.

"The government and the private sector should share the burden of the Genocide aftermath. We have to help the government to provide education for these children," James Rukundwa, from Lycee de Ruhango Kirezi said.

However, the Executive Secretary of FARG, Theophile Ruberangeyo, ruled out an increase this year.

"We have always advocated for this increase, but I cannot assure you that it would come this year or the next one," Ruberangeyo told the school heads that government-aided schools with FARG students are not complaining.

Jean Damascène Ndagijimana, the director of Lycée de Rusatira in Nyanza District, urged the government to address the challenge soon.

Last year, FARG sponsored 14,144 students in 404 secondary schools countrywide.

A school wishing to enrol survivor students is required to sign a contract with FARG. The institution carries out inspection to see whether the school meets the required standards.

FARG also reserves the right to withdraw their students from schools that do not meet the minimum standards. Last year, three schools lost a combined 500 students to other schools due to failure to meet the required standards.

Ruberangeyo said if those schools meet the minimum requirements, they could sign a new contract.

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