Liberia: Nimba County Lawmaker Alarms Over Illegal School Fees Imposed by Ministry of Education

Rep. Dorwhon Twain Gleekia of Nimba County Electoral District #6

Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Nimba County’s Sixth Electoral District Representative, Dorwhon T. Gleekia has called for the appearance of Education Minister Ansu Sonii before House’s plenary to give clarity on the unannounced increment of school fees at public schools in his district.

Rep. Gleekia, speaking to reporters upon his return from his district, revealed that the Ministry of Education has mandated administrations of public schools to increase all fees charged by 200 percent.

The situation, he noted, does not mean well for the “struggling” students and parents who have to make lots of sacrifice to stay in school or send their children to school.

According to Rep. Gleekia, the established registration fees for seventh and ninth graders for the past school year was L$875, while 10th to 12th grades paid L$1,500 per student.

In addition, an extra L$1,000 was deposited into the Ministry of Education’s special mobile money account by each student from grades 10 to 12 as activities fees. And out of the amount, 60 percent goes to the Ministry and 40 percent to the school.

With the dawn of the new school year, Rep. Gleekia said the fees are all double without any prior notice.

He said the L$1,000  collected as registration and activities fees has been increased to L$3,000; entrance fees from L$200 to L$300 and L$2,000 is being deposited by seventh to ninth graders who were not captured under the previous MOE special mobile money account deposit.

He asserted that the “act by the Ministry has the propensity to drive our school going children away from schools and at the time burdens the suffering parents that are struggling to cope with the current economic hardship coupled with the ongoing salary harmonization that is in total defiance to a plenary decision.”

He wants the Minister of Education, Professor Ansu Sonii to appear before plenary of the House of Representatives to state reasons behind the sudden hike in fees.

“We have implored the indulgence of our plenary to have the Minister of Education to appear before this august body to explain why these measures that have the propensity of putting more burdens on parents and driving students away from school are being implemented by the Ministry of education on the watchful eyes of the Minister,” he indicated.

There have been reports of hike in tuition fees by administrations of public schools across the country.

Recently, FrontPage Africa uncovered several acts of ongoing financial malpractice by the administration of the Paynesville Community Elementary and Junior High School (PCS) located in Joe-Bar Community, Paynesville. 

PCS Principal, Thelma Mehn is accused of hiking fees for the 2019/2020 school year.

This runs contrary to the MOE’s stipulated fees for public schools in the country and the situation has raised concerns amongst some self-supported students and struggling parents.

According to the MOE’s guidelines, all public schools, including PCS and others under its direct supervision, are to charge L$1,000 (US$4.75) for lower-based education (grades 1 to 6), L$2,000 for upper-based education (grades 7 to 9) and L$3,000 for secondary education (grades 10 to 12).

But in an apparent disregard to the MOE’s laid down tuition policy, PCS’ administration has hiked the registration fees.

Madam Mehn’s stewardship is requesting L$1,950 from grades one to six and L$2,950 for grades seven to nine, excluding L$100 each for admission form to both old and new students.

The school has instructed parents and students to do their registration in two separate formats by paying the L$2,000 stipulated by the MOE to Lone Star Cell Mobile Money while the additional L$950 is being paid to the business office. 

Despite the report and concerns raised by parents, the Ministry of Education is yet to respond or take appropriate actions.