Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Evaluation on fee structure not yet complete

Students expected to join both primary and secondary private schools for 2015 academic year, are likely to continue paying the old fee structure charged as the exercise currently being undertaken by the government to review them is not yet complete. In July this year, the government through the ministry of Education and Vocational Training resolved to evaluate fee structures in private schools after a long standing public outcry among parents and guardians who dish out huge payments for their children in pursuit of quality education in the country. The Education Minister Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa said yesterday in a telephone interview that, the committee composed of education experts including private education stakeholders which was tasked by his ministry to coordinate the exercise is yet to release its reports. “I will not  disclose any report about the development to the general public as the committee is still going on with the work, and once they have finished the work the report would be handed over to me and later made public”, He said. The minister was contacted with a view to know how the progresses were going on about the matter which over the years has brought attention to the general public who are eager to know  what steps is to be taken by the government over the matter. Earlier it was learned that, when the committee was commissioned to work it was anticipated that, it could accomplish the exercise within six months’ time in order to allow the new fee structure become workable effective during the 2015 academic year. According to the Ministry’s Senior Communications Officer, Ntambi Bunyanzu the committee would introduce indicative best fee structure for the running schools in the country judging from the kind of education and the facilities being provided by the said schools in the country. He said the government’s reaction has come amid long complaints from some parents and guardians of students and pupils who are learning in private schools mostly those of English medium primary schools, as well as secondary schools charging tuition fees at exorbitant rates. He noted that, the selected committee members are supposed to determine the fee structure depending on the kind of education being offered by private schools and also their running costs. On their part, owners of private schools in the country through their organization, the Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO) had asked the government to reduce taxes imposed on them. Speaking exclusively over the matter, the Secretary General Benjamin Nkonya was quoted as saying they were willing to reduce school fees by up to 30 percent if the government would mind to scrap taxes imposed on them. The taxes at issue includes property, land, corporate tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), local government levies, work permit fees, and occupational safety and health administration (OSHA), among others. Parents and guardians in the country find themselves digging deep into their pockets year after year to pay for their pupils and students in private schools after public schools began performing poorly from the mid 1990s.

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa.

A random survey carried out has leant that fees in private secondary schools and among English medium primary schools are often twice as much as those charged in some higher learning institutions. For instance, fees paid per annum in private primary and secondary schools range at a maximum average rate of between Sh.1.5 million and Sh.2million for day scholars and are as high as Sh2.5 or more for boarding students. Government secondary schools charge an annual payment of between Sh20, 000 for day scholars and Sh. 70,000 for borders respectively as the government handles most of the costs. The issue of high fee structure was first tab led in the Parliament during the 2013/14 financial year and the Commissioner for Education in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training Professor Eustella Bhalalusesa announced the government’s plan to work on the matter. She said the government intends to minimize such complaints which it has seen going around and the trend is likely to cause segregation and discrimination among education stakeholders, whereby people who have will continue to benefit the fruits of the country than those who do not have.

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