The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora says students who fail to pay their fees, including those whose fees are paid by the government under its Basic Education Assistance Module, should not be denied their results because the issue of fees has nothing to do with them. It is a case between the school and parents or guardians.
Dokora said this in the Senate last week where he also disclosed that the government owed $64 million under the BEAM programme. It is not clear how the government will clear this arrears because only $10 million was allocated to the BEAM programme this year.
Responding to a question by Senator Annah Shiri on what government policy was regarding schools that withheld “O” and “A” level results for failure to pay school fees, Dokora said: “As the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we stated that the issue of fees is a case between the parents/guardians and the school, that has nothing to do with the students. When we look at the students in primary and secondary schools, they are young children who cannot appear in courts or enter into any agreement or contract as they are below the age of majority…… Heads of schools, please leave students alone, give them their results but deal with the parents and guardians who are supposed to pay the fees.”
Asked by Senator James Makore what the policy was regarding students whose fees were paid under BEAM as their results were also being withheld, Dokora responded: “As a Ministry, we are aware that we have outstanding financial balances between the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. The amount is almost 64 million dollars which is fees of these students on the BEAM programme. Regardless of that problem, we are aware as a nation that we have the less-privileged who benefit from BEAM and hence they are covered by the policy stated by Government, that they are not in a position to hold a contract with the school but they should be given their results. It is known that the problem lies with the Ministry responsible for the payment of fees.”
Dokora, however, said parents should pay fees for their children and he urged legislators to educate members of their constituencies on the importance of paying school fees.
“We have had instances whereby parents and guardians have spent more than two years promising that they will be paying the fees to the extent that the learner has written the final examination at these particular schools. This is a pain in the neck for these schools. I ask members of this august House to go and tell the parents in their constituencies that learning institutions are not for babysitting but for learning. They can only run if fees are paid.
“Let us hold meetings with parents and guardians advising that they should honor the agreements they made with the schools that they are going to pay school fees for the sake of running the schools. No matter what we do or how teachers work, if there are no resources in these schools, schools will suffer. Let us pay our fees and our children will have better education.”