Parents owe P4m in unpaid public school fees

Students in class PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Students in class PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

Parents owe public schools close to P4 million in unpaid school fees, Douglas Letsholathebe, the Education and Skills Development minister, revealed yesterday.

Responding to a question in Parliament, Letsholathebe explained that parents' reluctance and/or failure to pay fees is the reason why government is sometimes unable to meet every learner’s needs. He said the amount owed by parents is based on the deficit between the estimated school fees and that which is collected and as a proportion of the population in Junior against Senior secondary schools.

“The estimated amount owed by parents for school fees at Junior Secondary Certificate level for the last five years is estimated to be P2.5 million. The estimated amount owed by parents for school fees at Senior Secondary Certificate level for the last five years is P1.3m,” he said.

The minister further urged parents to pay up, “Monies owed by parents in fees is a significant amount that schools seek for the loss of government property which is a reason why my ministry is challenged to provide all resources needed in the classroom. My ministry’s policy requires school heads to release certificates irrespective of any debt to the school and to request parents to sign an undertaking to clear any debt.”

Letsholathebe indicated that their policy as government is to leave no child behind and that he will reiterate his position to school heads to ensure that it is clearly understood.

Turning to uncollected certificates, the minister said there are many certificates which remain uncollected in school, but it is not possible to differentiate between those that have not been collected due to outstanding debts and those that remain in schools due to apathy on the part of learners to collect them or a reluctance to return textbooks and other government property belonging to the school. “The number of certificates returned to BEC in the past five years for Junior and Senior secondary education are 12,333 for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019. Certificates for 2020, 2021 and 2022 are with the schools,” he said.

The minister was speaking in response to Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP) Ignatious Moswaane's question he asked among others. Moswaane asked the minister if he was aware that children from poor families could not access education due to their economic status.

“I am not aware that children from poor families cannot access education due to their economic status. Social services identify children who are vulnerable or orphaned and assessments are made to ensure that all children from low-income families are exempted from paying school fees and are supported for the payment of PTA fees and even for lost books,” Letsholathebe responded.

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