Education Contradicts High Tuition Fees
There are two separate conflicting statements emerging out of the Ministry of Education regarding the inflicted tuition fees charged by authorities of private schools in Monrovia and its environs.
Initially, the Ministry of Education, through its Director of Communication, expressed support for the abrupt decision by private schools to demand ‘sky-rocketing’ fees from parents, guardians and self-supported students for this academic year.
Giving the ministry’s position on the arbitrary increase in tuition fees amidst concerns, Director Maxin Bleetan via mobile phone described the action by private school authorities as “justifiable in the right direction”.
In his justification, Bleetan noted that while the Government of Liberia was paying its teachers satisfactory salaries and huge benefits, private schools in the county needed to do likewise, emphasizing that the increment in tuition and other fees would afford authorities of private schools to pay better salaries and other benefits to their teachers as a way of maintaining them just as public school teachers. This position by the Ministry of Education is the same provided by private school authorities as the basis for the abrupt and arbitrary increase in all fees.
His justification may have suggested to many listeners of the talk show that the Ministry of Education was in acquiescence with what many parents, guardians and self-supported students referred to as “broad day robbery”.
But in contradiction of the previous position of the ministry as released by its Communication Director, deputy Education Minister for Instruction, Dr. Martor Kpangbai expressed dismay over the arbitrary increase in tuition and other fees by private schools, assuring that the government was studying the situation for appropriate actions.
Minister Kpangbai named the St. Theresa’s Convent and Cathedral catholic Schools as two of the private schools with inflated fees, noting that information sheets in the possession of the ministry exhibit ‘sky-rocketing’ tuition and other fees for the 2012/2013 academic year. He acknowledged that the Education Ministry was aware that some private schools have already double tuition fees, wondering why they would want to do so.
Reports gathered by this paper suggest that many parents whose children attend private schools in Paynesville, Gardinersville and Sinkor, have already submitted to the ministry as evidence of such inflation, information sheets sold to them for either a hundred or hundred and fifty Liberian dollars.
Interestingly, in most private schools there are payments for insurance and medical fees at the same time, while student ID Cards (not computerized) and string are priced at L$200 or L$300 and L$100 or L$150, among others.
Parents have also complained to the Ministry of Education that school administrations are even demanding seventy-five percent first installment payments during registration, something that has prevented them and self-supported students from going through the process up to present. The amount of about L$2000.00 is being charged for a transcript should any student attempt transferring to another school as a result of the tuition increase.
Many Parent-Teachers Associations have distanced themselves from the decisions, clarifying that they have no role in such. According to them, some of the private school principals are attributing the decisions to their respective boards.
The conflicting positions emerging out of the Ministry of Education may be a result of speculations that because some officials of that ministry are also either proprietors or members of the boards of most of these private schools, it may be difficult to address the situation even though Minister Kpangbai has assured.
Many students, Including self-supported, are yet to commence the process of registration owing to the arbitrary increase in school fees. The possibility of some to enroll this year may just be too slim.
The process of registration for this academic year began since July 16, 2012.