Parents in Bong County Worry about School Fees Hike Ahead of New School Year
Gbarnga, Bong County – As the new academic year nears many parents in Bong County say this is not the best of times. A lot of them are distressed. For those with children attending private, the odds are very high.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The poor financial status of many Liberians, occasioned by the near-comatose state of the economy, has made it virtually impossible for them to have this important aspect of their responsibility met.
According to investigations, most private and public schools in Bong County, on resumption, hiked their fees. Some of them have given parents a deadline when the payment should be made.
According to investigations, most private schools have hiked their fees and have given deadline to make the payments.
On account of the foregoing, some parents have lamented that what schools are charging, especially for children in the nursery and primary classes, is unduly high and unwarranted, noting that the fees do not correspond with what children at such tiers of education should be made to pay.
Some parents, who are finding it difficult to pay for their children’s tuition, said they were faced with the option of withdrawing these kids from private schools and send them to public schools or other private schools that charge lesser fees.
A parent, Alfred Jones, lamented the exorbitant school fees and the challenge of having to pay over 9,000 at a public school in Gbarnga for three children.
Jones said the terrible state of the economy had put him and his family under intense pressure, and he was contemplating withdrawing them for this academic year.
He noted that, aside from the school fees, the cost of textbooks and stationery was way too high. Jones, a civil servant, noted that the situation at home had become so critical that he can hardly afford the school fees for the academic year.
He further lamented that the fund he pulled out from the business he does to augment his income could not remedy his current situation. He only managed to buy some items essential for his most senior son, who just got into secondary school.
More challenging is the case of Ms. Sarah Willie, who is a government employee. Willie has not received her salary for two months. She is worried about paying her children school fees as well as her house rent.
Parents like her have been made to continually struggle to keep their children in public schools due to the current state of the economy.
She described the state of most public schools as terrible, in addition to some of them being unsuitable for learning; they were increasingly becoming breeding grounds for criminality and other deviant behaviors.
“I am a product of the public school system and I am proud of the type of education I got back then. But sadly, the same quality of education can hardly be obtained in most public schools nowadays,” she said.
“Our desire for the best is putting most low-income earners like me under undue pressure. The government should overhaul the education system to save parents from the stranglehold of private schools that are out to ensure that education goes to the highest bidder.”
A distraught civil servant, Mrs. Josephine Hallowangar says the economy and society have not been favorable to her.
Hallowangar’s quest to give her children a good start in life made her enrolled them in one of the cheapest private schools in her neighborhood.
“It is unfortunate that, at the moment, I cannot afford the school fees anymore. The thought of seeing my kids at home when their mates are at school is heartbreaking. However, I am working towards having them back in school, by the grace of God,” she said.
For his part, Togar Weyea, chairman of the Independent Bong Intellectual Class (IBIC), accused some private schools for taking undue advantage of the “sorry state of government-run schools” to charge ridiculously high fees, thereby making education exclusive for the rich.
Weyea then called on government to regulate the fees of private schools to make life easier for parents and guardians many of whom have been rocked by the bad economy.
A concerned parent in Gbarnga, Jackson Takerweyea, lamented that he and some other parents were forced to withdraw their children from a school that increased its tuition fee from LD$ 12,000 to LD 17,000 per semester recently.
Takerweyea said he was compelled to take his kids to another affordable school after all entreaties to make the proprietress of the school to review the fees downward failed.
He said the move became necessary to avoid becoming paranoid when it is time to pay school fees.
“All the children I know who left that particular school are doing excellently well elsewhere. I believe that their quality of learning did not in any way depreciate, as the proprietress sometimes wanted us to believe. The kids seem to be even doing better in their new schools,” he said.
“This idea of thinking that schools that charge exorbitant fees are better than others that charge lower fees is just a thing of the mind. To an extent, parents should be blamed for this constant hike in fees because they sometimes call for it.”
Another parent lamented that she he lately been denied the option of paying by installments, her kids school fees.
“The embarrassment this usually causes parents is too much. It also has a negative impact on the children. It exposes them to shame before other children who see how they are humiliated,” he said.
Nevertheless, some parents, despite groaning under the burden of high fees, still prefer their children remaining in private schools because they believe private schools conduct better management, supervision, infrastructure and standard.