EDITORIAL: Enforcing Ban on Sale of Uniforms at Schools is a Must for All Parents
FEW DAYS AGO, parents and guardians began to alarm over the 100 percent some more than a 100 percent hike in the fees at their kids’ primary schools around Monrovia. In addition to this hike, those struggling parents, who have been calling on various radio talk-shows for the government’s swift intervention, have also spoken about increase, too, in the prices of sets of uniform and other materials that the schools are offering. According to the Ministry of Education, the new academic year has already begun and students are to begin classes on Monday, September 2nd. But parents have raised the alarm that if nothing is done by the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Education, many Liberian school-going pupils won’t be able to be enrolled into this year’s academic program.
AT THE BEGINNING of each academic year in Liberia, nearly every school, especially private, goes to their own drawing boards and comes out with their own stipulated fees that they will want parents and guardians to honor before their child/ren or wards can be accepted in their schools. It has become customary to the administrations of most of these schools, to always add extra fees on some of the many fee-paying requirements, including “medical, breakage, insurance” etc. So, every new school year, parents must expect this trend.
IT IS NOT AGAINST the Educational Law of 2002 for schools to draw up their individual fee structures as they see fit.
BUT THE LAW MANDATES the Ministry of Education to regulate every learning facility within the territorial confines of Liberia. This regulation also includes the fees and other things that the schools are engaged into.
SECTION 3.2 OF THE Education Law under “Duties of Ministers”, it says, “The Minister of Education shall: (a) have full power over and supervision of all public schools and institutions of higher learning to the extent provided by the law and permitted by their charters. (b) be constantly informed on the condition and operation of all public and private schools and other educational institutions and of the general state of education in Liberia. (c) formulate policies and regulations to govern the conduct and operation of all schools in Liberia, in accordance with the law. (d) serve as chairperson ex-officio on relevant national advisory board of extra-ministerial national councils, tribunals and committees.”
IN TRYING TO EXERCISE his role, the Minister of Education, Prof. Dr. D. Ansu Sonii Friday, August 16, mandated all school authorities in the country to desist from imposing fees on struggling parents relative to the sale of uniforms and other unnecessary fees.
MINISTER SONII DESCRIBED the act as an attempt to deny the youth population from acquiring quality and affordable education.
HE TOLD JOURNALISTS that no school, including public and private schools that operate under the law of the country, should sell uniform to students.
THE SALE AND MANDATORY purchase of uniforms from the school have become a viable business the administrations and owners of various schools have endorsed themselves into at the detriment of struggling parents and guardians.
ON FRIDAY, Education Minister Sonii stated that no one should be required to purchase uniform from any school.
HE EMPHASIZED that all schools should get the samples of their uniforms on campus for parents or students to see and buy the same cloth to sew their exact uniform instead of the school selling it on the campus at exorbitant prices.
SOME OF THE SCHOOLS’ administrators hire local tailors and seamstresses to sew their schools’ uniforms following which those administrators will blatantly lie to unsuspecting parents that they had imported the uniforms from outside the country and so the prices have to be high. They even do the same for the printing of Physical Education (PE) suits. They have become involved with profit making that they sell everything ranging from the beret, socks, badges, etc.
THIS IS SO BAD THAT it is adding “salt to injury” as they have already hiked the tuition.
PRESENTLY, THE ECONOMY is bad; unemployment rate is high. The government is struggling to keep the salary flow of its working force constant. Civil servants are just expected to begin taking their June salary in August. No one knows for certain when the next ones will come.
AND SO, THE MINISTER Sonii had to wakeup to take action about to relief the unnecessary yokes that school administrators have placed on the shoulders and necks of parents.
THE EDUCATION MINISTER acknowledged that private schools are complementing government and are involved in the process of earning various forms of income; however, he reiterated that the Education Ministry has the authority to review and determine the extent to which they may charge fees.
HE INDICATED that the Ministry of Education has a program to go around the country to evaluate and grade all 6,000 schools in the country to know everything they are doing, adding that this exercise will last until the end of September this year.
“WE WILL BE visiting every school in the country to know their activities and make sure they operate within the confines of the law; and we will make sure that no government school be it Tubman High, B.W.I, among others, sell uniform to students because they should not be in the business of selling uniforms.”
SONII STRESSED that any school that will be caught in the sale of uniform will be operating as a corporate enterprise, adding: “You will no longer be considered as a school and the 35% tax levied on income will be imposed on you.”
AT THE MOMENT, all recognized learning institutions are exempted from paying taxes to government.
NOW, EVERY PARENT and guardian must help the Ministry of Education to enforce this mandate of “no uniform sale in school” ban. You shouldn’t sit supinely and wait for the Ministry to do for you what you can do for yourselves. There will be some schools’ administrators, who will defy the Ministry and still secretly or even openly carry out their extortion. But you parents must stand-up to them and report their unethical behaviors to the Ministry. If you start to go behind the Ministry’s mandate and begin to purchase those uniforms, you are going to be aiding and abetting them in their ugly actions and your cries of hike in fees will be in vain. Report them to the Ministry and hopefully, appropriate actions will be taken against those schools. Stand up now and be that good parent.