On 17 October this year, the government issued a letter to address heads of private Secondary Schools in the country to present school fees costs for the academic year 2018/2019 with the aim of updating government statistics.
The letter which was signed by Zahra Rashid, the Principal Regulator of the quality of schools in Dar es Salaam zone demanded the school heads to submit the report in two days via the email address printed in the copy of the letter.
Interviewed education stakeholders on the matter shared mixed feelings as some private school owners are of the opinion that the move is aimed at provoking them [the owners] and it might contribute to the slowing down of education standards in the country.
Benjamin Nkonya, Chairperson of private schools owners in the country, says the parliament in 2015 warned the government from interfering with private schools operations. He was thus surprised when the government issued the letter, which only gave them two days for implementation.
In a phone interview with Success, Nkonya insisted that Joyce Ndalichako, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training gave directives to private schools that they should not raise school fees costs and told the government not to interfere in the matter. He was thus wondering why they still issued the letter.
Owners of private schools issued a letter on their concerns addressed to the social committee board at the Parliament, as they still wait for a response, they are yet to act on the government directive.
According to Nkonya, the government is up to speed on the fees structure of private schools because each Regional Education Officer is always involved with the schools board meetings together with parents where issues such as school fees are discuss.
He however says that if there are some private schools that have been conducting their board meetings without the presence of a government official then the government is free to take any action it deems appropriate against such schools.
Beautus Lusajo, Board Chairman of Patmo Junior School, says the move might have a positive target, he however questions that timing of the directive.
He says parents and the school board often sit together to discuss different matters pertaining to schools development, including schools fees.
And since Regional Education Officers are always involved in the process he is wondering why the government still issued a letter to schools.
Deputy General Secretary from the Ministry of Education Dr. Ave Maria Semakafu, says the government only wants to update its records, however people are misinterpreting the move. Being asked why they only gave two days’ notice, she says, the process isn’t complex, and it will allow for the government to have time to do other official duties concerning the matter. .
“Until now it is not possible to tell if we have received any response or not until we come up with a report of how many schools have responded to the letter. When we get the report we will communicate with the public,” says Semakafu.
Mariana James is a mother of two students at St. Mary Secondary School in Mbezi. She thinks the government has the right to ask for fees structure of private schools, but she thinks it is not right for the government to interfere or dictate on the amount that should be charged by such schools.
She says every parent can decide what to do when it comes to quality education. If a parent thinks she can afford high costs, let them take their children to private schools even if the school fees are high. What matters is access to good quality education.