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Government suspends tuition fees

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By Samuel Kalimira

Kondowe

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]inistry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi, has written Education Division managers and secondary school head teachers stopping them from collecting students’ tuition fees for the 2018/19 academic year.

In a memo dated September 4 2018, Saidi told secondary and community day secondary school head teachers that they would be instructed by the ministry if there are changes to the directive.

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“As you are all aware, the 2018/19 academic year starts on September 10 2018. I write to advise that you should delay the collection and receipt of tuition fees from students for the 2018/19 academic year. You will receive further instructions on the same in due course,” he says.

However, the memo says the head teachers should collect other payments such as boarding fees, text book revolving fund, and general purpose fund and development PTA fees.

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In an interview, Saidi confirmed the development, saying the ministry was making reforms to the education sector; hence the delay, which he said would last three weeks.

“Such things usually happen in our ministry. We are conducting some reforms which, we think, will be completed within three weeks. Head teachers have been told to hold on because we want the outcome not to be changed,” Saidi said.

However, he could not say whether the delay is because the government wants to raise or remove the fees.

But education activist Benedicto Kondowe described the government’s decision to suspend the fees’ payment as baseless.

“If the government is working on reforms it means they have made a decision that secondary schools should be for free and that cannot be changed.

“This is not good for education because the responsible ministry has never allocated enough resources [to the ministry]. [The] government also never remits the limited available resources in time to the ministry. Therefore, if the decision is to remove tuition fees, it must be implemented after thorough consultations,” Kondowe said.

He further said free education failed primary school education standards and implementing the same at the secondary school level without proper measures could reduce affect education standards.

Recently, United Transformation Movement (UTM) leader, Saulos Chilima, described the government’s decision to delay the payment of the fees as mere politics.

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