Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are parents responsible wholly over school contributions?

The continued silence by the government from reacting in favour of parents who are subjected to various contributions for primary school development has been described as a total failure of commitments towards the concept of free education system in the country, the Guardian can report. In an exclusive interview early this week in Dar es Salaam, some parents have said that, school owners have been introducing to them numerous contributions, but to their great dismay the government has been keeping quite over the matter despite several claims. They have expressed their grave concern over the matter with some have blasted the authorities concerned accusing them of their involvement with corrupt malpractices that is the main cause of their failure to curb the escalating phenomenon. They said that, at every end of a year term are called to attend the school meeting and briefed on the new development set up whereupon are told to contribute for a certain development project designed for the school as part of their contributions. Abisalom Okinda a resident of Gongo la Mbotto queried the rationale of parents to be told to settle down multimillion worth of a project intended to be done at a school bearing the fact that most parents earn their living at a minimum cost of 1 USD per day. Okinda who has two children learning at Jica Primary school which is located at Gongo la Mbotto in Ilala district said that he is shocked with the numerous contributions the school has introduced for parents to cover for the educational development of the school. He outlined some of the disturbing contributions such as payments of security guards, electricity, stationeries, water supply, money for the maintenance of the school environment including latrines, desks purchase, gardening school as well as construction of classes. These are the categories under which parents’ major contributions are focused for the welfare of the development of a school. The payments are settled every term depending on the project to be undertaken. In addition to that, others are payments to improve a pupil’s academic performance which he said is paid everyday on a pupil’s attendance plus the amount for speed test totaling to over Sh. 1,300/- per day per each pupil. Another parent Masatu Kulinga complained that he spends about Sh. 1,200/- everyday for his pupil at Mwangaza Primary school which is adjacent to Jica. He says the government had banned tuition fees, but to his great dismay he is compelled to pay on daily basis. According to him, once he fails to fulfill the need, has his child canned or chased away from attending the class. This is overburdened for him on account of the fact that he doesn’t have permanent employment that could make him financially stable all the time to afford the money. 

Kulinga has blasted the government for being silent all the time whenever parents make complaints and no any action is being taken to remedy the situation as part of their special attention.  He said failure by the government to construct more schools to accommodate pupils should not be a burden for parents because they (parents) were also paying government taxes through salaries and their businesses. Investigations by the Guardian can establish that, parents and guardians are contributing between Sh50,000 and Sh65,000 annually for schools developments paid by them on behalf of each pupil. Contacted for comments, the Ilala district education officer, Elizabeth Misoke issued a warning in Dar es Salaam on Monday this week in an exclusive interview and noted that not all development projects aimed for the schools are entitled to parents.  She said that parents or guardians of pupils learning at a particular school should make sure that are agreed with school development committees in their various meetings on the specific projects basically targeting the academic development of their pupils. She outlined some of the basic necessities like contributions of desks, stationeries, and curriculum dev elopement on pupils’ academic performances is what parents can contribute as they increase the academic performances of their children. However she said that not all contributions are a must for parents as there are some development projects for the school which arte directly financed by well-wishers including donors in the country.  “We know the money given by the government as subsidies to primary schools in the country is little that cannot be enough to cater for the school’s needs, but it should not be a reason for parents or guardians to cover the gaps”, she  said and insisted that there must be a limit. She said that, his district has received Sh. 30 million during the first quarter of 2014/15 financial year in the first three months which is not enough to cater for the need of all 150,000 pupils in  111 primary schools in the district. She made a quick calculations and noted that, if the money is apportioned to every pupils each one would get Sh. 200/- only. However, she has called on parents to sign the summary report of their meeting agenda that would authentically confirm their commitments on an agreed issue as copies of such reports are normally submitted to her office for references. A month ago the Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Office responsible for education, Kassim Majaliwa was quoted in the parliament admitting to the governments’ lack of funds to solve primary school problems in the country. He said it was also the responsibility of the school boards and their committees to look on ways of reducing such problems by involving parents.

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