By NALUMBA MASAMU
IN A monthâ€™s time, Government schools are opening for the third team and I am still sure most parents and guardians have already started stressing about how they will pay bills associated with each new term.
This is because of the hidden costs that parents have to bear as they send their children to school. Recently, The Minister of Education Patrick Ngoma noted with sadness that abolished school fees for lower primary grades was slowly creeping back into schools through the introduction of other payments by head teachers and parentsâ€™ teachers associations. In most Government schools, it has become a norm for children through their parents or guardians to pay for so many things ranging from stationary, cobra, perimeter fences or even school buses. The minister, who was speaking in kitwe during the official launch of the Buseko Primary School old pupils and teachers association, has since warned all head teachers from introducing other fees. The idea was to reduce the school dropout rate that in part was caused by abject poverty among the members of our society, â€œwe have been informed that some schools do not even allow uniforms from cheaper sources, but force them to buy from schools, this is unacceptable, these are people who are tarnishing the image of government and traumatising children who are being chased from classes as in most cases this is done in full view of their classmatesâ€.
The minister also said: â€œWhat should be noted is that parents and guardians also have to bear indirect costs of uniforms, shoes, textbooks, stationary supplies, transport money to and from school, PE kits, educational equipment school trips and extra-curricular activities. I personally feel that this is taking advantage of parents who will bend backwards to try to provide whatever is demanded so that the children acquire educationâ€.
The author, 14, is a member of the Media Network on Child Rights and Development.
By NALUMBA MASAMU