Africa-Press – Rwanda. Students in public schools may start paying uniform fees in the next academic year if the Government implements its harmonisation plan aimed at preventing fee hikes, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente told Parliament on Monday, August 1.
While presenting to a joint parliamentary session an update on achievements in basic education (Primary and Secondary) in relation to the National Transformation Strategy (NST1), Ngirente said that government was considering how to harmonise school fees.
“The government will have set equal (same) school fees countrywide by the beginning of the academic year [2022-2023] that will begin in September – that is what we approved – such that there is no school that charges Rwf300,000, another Rwf400,000 while another charges Rwf500,000 [per year],” Ngirente observed.
He pointed out that guidelines that will be issued this August will show how much a child studying in a public school in Rwanda will have to pay per year.
However, schools have reacted to the development with mixed feeling with some saying that much as the move is in good faith, there are considerations that must come into play.
Elisha Karara, a bursar at Lycee De Kigali (LDK) told The New Times that harmonising fees for all public schools would be a complicated task.
He said that there are some schools that have reached a given level of standards and that has an economic implication.
“For instance, a student here (at LDK) takes bread and porridge with milk [for breakfast], so they cannot pay the same school fees as a student in the rural area who only drinks porridge,” he said.
However, Jean Bosco Ngamije, Head Teacher of Ecole Scolaire Bwesige in Gicumbi District said that the Government’s move to set the same fees in public schools was laudable.
“We are all pulling in the same direction. So, it is not a good idea that one public school charges a huge amount of money while another charges less,” he said, indicating that there are schools that were charging as much as Rwf200,000 per term.
Currently, he indicated that at his school, students in ordinary level pay Rwf86,000 fees, while those in advanced level of high school pay Rwf91,400 per term.
Instead of schools imposing fees as they please in order to meet certain standards, he suggested that there should be instructions [from the Government] on how that should be done, and all schools should comply with them for the benefit of all students.
Also, Karara said that schools based in Kigali are not close to commodities such as rice, which implies that it reaches them at relatively high cost compared to schools in rural areas such as Gisagara District where it is grown and milled.
According to him, schools should be put in categories such that the boarding schools in Kigali should be charging a given amount of fees different from those in other provinces of the country, or those in the 12-years-basic education tier.
The rising commodity prices
Given the increase in prices of some commodities, Ngamije said that his school was planning to increase fees in consultation with parents and officials from the sector leaders for it to be able to run the required academic activities.
“For instance in the third term of the concluded academic year, a supplier was awarded a tender to provide the school with beans at Rwf410 a kilogramme. But now, a kilogramme is between Rwf800 and Rwf1,000,” he said of the rising commodity costs.
About bonus regulation
Regarding regulation of teachers’ bonuses, Karara pointed out that the facility was put in place after realising that a given teacher would teach in three schools [to supplement their income] and parents decided to give such an incentive to them so that they have stability in providing education to their children.
This, he said, is paid by parents depending on their means, and are willing to pay it for the sake of quality education of their children, adding that what teachers get in bonus is determined by the number of students.
Meanwhile, he said that as the Government has increased the salary of teachers, regulating bonuses could prevent the situation where teachers would frequently move from one school to another in search for a higher pay supplement.
For Ngamije, even the teacher bonus should be regulated, pointing out that lack of regulation would create irregularities in determining it.
Apart from school fees and teacher bonuses that are not harmonised, the teachers’ salaries in public schools are the same based on the qualifications and experience.