Protect parents from hidden levies schools have put in fees structure

Thursday November 04 2021
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When schools reopened two weeks ago, parents and the general public attention was drawn to the cost of education which, for the first time appear to have dramatically gone up. School attributed the rise to costs associated with the new normal and the general rise in inflation.

However, while a general look at school fees structure shows there was no change or adjestments were not significant in most instances, hidden costs ballooned sums parents are required to pay. Things such as uniforms, student cards, hygiene items and printing paper, among others apparently became the new avenues for schools to raise money.

A school with 1000 plus student population, for instance, requires each to bring ream of papers, rubber mops, hoes and the likes. Some schools go as far as compelling parents to buy these items at their own chosen shop and at prices set by themselves.

What this implies is that since the school cannot stock or use all these items, it is a way of milking money from parents. What this creates is that while well-to-do parents don’t mind paying, learners from poor and vulnerable homes effectively become casualties of these recurrent charges that unnecessarily rise the cost of education.

For instance, a Musanze district based parent one Laurent Ndabateze recently told Rwanda Today he was struggling to secure reorientation for her two children after finding out that the public boarding schools where they were sent after emerging among top candidates in the national examinations are too expensive.

He needed at least Rwf446,000 to take the children to ES Rubengera and Nyamirama TVET schools respectively, and a more than a half of the sum was going to costs other than the actual school fees.


Since the increments are prevalent in boarding schools perceived to better resourced and staffed, the reorientation means Ms Ndabateze’s children are robbed of a chance to pursue education in schools they hardly worked for.

His children’s plight reflects that of many among estimated 9,000 who filed claims for reorientation to the National Examination and School Inspection Authority.

While it was not made public what these applicants stated as reasons, our surveys suggest that a section sought reorientation from academies they deem costly to those with affordable fees structure and in short distance to cut on transport costs.

Heads of school will argue that fees adjustments are justified citing rising inflation and spending on other things to run schools under the pandemic induced new normal, but there is a need for scrutiny.

The Ministry of Education recently announced it was considering to rules that will “deter school heads from imposing unjustifiable costs on parents through fees adjustment.” There is no better time to do it than now, and this is time to look back and realistically address gaps financing of our education system.