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Govt okays forex only school fees

by Staff Reporter
27 Nov 2022 at 13:14hrs | Views
THE Government will not stand in the way of schools that decide to charge fees exclusively in foreign currency as long as there is consensus among parents and guardians of learners, an official has said.

This comes as some schools, through the School Development Committees (SDCs) have pushed that school fees be paid exclusively in foreign currency as from next term. Their argument is premised on the concern that some parents "purposely" delay paying fees, only paying after the money would have been eroded by inflation.

Director of Communication and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr Taungana Ndoro said in an interview that although the ministry had a policy barring schools from charging exclusively in foreign currency, they could no longer stand in the way if parents agree that they want to pay in forex.

He said their policy could only be invoked if schools imposed the fees on parents without going through the necessary channels.
"If parents have a consensus we cannot stop them, if they agree as a majority that they want to pay for their children in foreign currency we will not block them.

Yes, we have the policy that says schools cannot charge exclusively in forex but remember we are dealing with a community of parents and if they collectively decide on something we will not stand in their way. What we are emphasising is the need for a consensus as in a majority of the parents.

The ministry will come in when we discover that such a decision was imposed and a majority of the parents did not endorse it," said Mr Ndoro.

The ministry spokesperson said they would not accept any such decision when they discover that only a minority would have endorsed the decision.

"However, if the minority would have been against the decision and feel aggrieved by the decision or that they cannot afford the arrangement of paying exclusively in foreign currency, they have an option of making alternative arrangements like transferring their children to schools where they feel they can afford the fees," said Mr Ndoro.

Several primary and secondary schools countrywide, including Government and council-run institutions, have sent circulars saying they will charge fees exclusively in United States dollars, without the option of paying in local currency. Other schools have demanded that at least half of the fees should be paid in foreign currency.

However, some learning institutions are converting USD fees to local currency using parallel market rates, in breach of the country's laws. Under the Exchange Control Act and the Bank Use Promotion Act as read with Statutory Instrument 118A of 2022, exclusively charging in foreign currency and pegging prices at parallel market rates is illegal.

The Government does not impose school fees amounts, but in terms of the Education Act, any tuition fees adjustment must be approved by a majority of parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than 20 percent of the parents.

School authorities are then supposed to tender an application for an adjustment accompanied by minutes of the meeting and the school budget to the ministry for processing.

Source - Sunday news