PUNISH PLAY HOOKY SCHOOLS REFUSING TO LOWER FEES

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THE news that some school administrations are refusing to lower school fees in line with recent government directive should be treated as a ploy by some individuals hell-bent to make government ostracised.

In fact, we think these are people playing cut-rate politics to stymie good intents of Government, which is trying to make education affordable to all.

It is hard to imagine how some of these schools can, with impunity, disregard Government edicts for the sole purpose of perhaps filling up their pockets with more money.

These schools opposed to reduced fees should outright be regarded as enemies of the nation because they do not mean well.

We also remember at the time Minister of General Education David Mabumba announced the reductions, the nation went agog with the news because the move was going to increase access to education for many, especially the poor.

The minister said the maximum school fees to be charged per secondary school pupil would be K300 only (PTA and project fee inclusive) and some schools will now be free to charge as low as K100 per term.

He said no pupil will pay more than K300 and any head teacher found violating the regulations will be seriously punished.

Even the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) welcomed the position taken by Government through the minister for bringing to fruition the reduction of fees in public schools and colleges.

ZANEC executive director George Hamusunga, who could not hide his bliss, said the minister’s pronouncement to reduce fees in public colleges of education to K1,800 for boarders, K800 for non-boarders and K500 for the teaching practice was a positive move towards increasing access to higher education.

In deciding to reduce the user fees, Mr Mabumba noted said most schools could not account for the money they collect from pupils as user fees.  Put it plainly, this money was filched.

He said the major operational cost of any public school is payment of salaries, which is covered by Government and could therefore not fathom this predilection for higher user fees in some schools and colleges.

The minister said it was improper that some schools in Lusaka could charge as high as K500 per child and went ahead to order reduced fees in public colleges of education to K1,800 for boarders, K800 for non-boarders and K500 for the teaching practice.

But since the minister has already warned to punish defiant head teachers who will throw the directive to the wind, we think time is now for Government to show who is in charge.

Those schools opposing lowered fees should be made to understand that education is important for personal, social and economic development of the nation. They should also be shown the doors if they remain impenitent.

They must also be told in no uncertain terms that education is vital to live with happiness and prosperity and should be accessed by as many people as possible.

We are also mindful that education empowers minds that will be able to conceive good thoughts and ideas while making life decisions and Zambians should always be part of this process.

Education is a fundamental tool that generates both perceptible and intangible morals and helps to incorporate part of human knowledge to generate economic ideals.

Government therefore should move in quickly and stop these vultures of fortune from ruining good government intentions, for the benefit of the nation.


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