Juba, South Sudan – 16 May 2021 – The management of private schools across the country warned the government to back-track on fee restrictions recently imposed on independent institutions of learning to avert consequences that may arise as a result of actions being considered by private schools.
A week after schools resumed, the government through the Ministry of General Education and Instructions, ordered private schools to charge fees at a maximum of SSP 80,000 and SSP 200,000 yearly for day and boarding scholars respectively.
Private Schools in Juba have ganged up against the decision, which they say, was taken by the government without due consultation with the management of private schools.
A number of private schools have rejected the move outright and threatened to shut down if the government insists and forces them to implement the order as the money paid by learners as per government order would not sustain the operation of schools.
Director of Darlington Wisdom Academy Noble Arem said the decision taken by the government for schools to have uniformed school fees was detrimental to brain drain as most teachers brought from foreign countries would leave as a result of poor pay, jeopardizing the standard of education.
“The order was a surprise to us. He [the Deputy Minister of General Education and Instruction] did not consult most of the private schools. We are paying USD 100-200 to maintain a qualified teacher per month. The Ministry came out with a decision which is not well researched,” he said.
However, during the announcement of school resumption, the Deputy Minister of General Education and Instructions Martin Tako Moyi claimed that the ministry earlier met members of some private schools and the Parents Teachers Association and deliberated on the matter.
“After deliberation with officials of these schools and considering the contemporary economic situation in the country and given the provisions of articles 8(1) g and 21 B (iv) of General Education Act, 2012, the ministry orders that, “All private schools should charge school fees in South Sudanese Pounds only and private schools should charge annual fees not exceeding SSP 80,000 inclusive of all scholastic requirements, private boarding schools to charge annual fees not exceeding SSP 200,000. This should be paid in three installments within 2020/21 academic year,” he said.
Arem challenged the government to address the volatile economy and market prices before imposing restrictions on how much money private schools should take in from learners.
“If they want to fix things right in the country, they are supposed to start reducing prices for commodities in the market before they can touch the education sector. And if they want to close down private schools, I am ready, I will allow them to close mine,” he said.
Data from the ministry indicates that private schools constitute 91% of the total schools across the country.
The Director for St. Lawrence Academy and deputy Chairperson for South Sudan Union of Private schools, Achiek Manyiel, strongly opposed the move by the government saying it will lower education standards set by sole proprietors.
“Parents know what we are offering and not all schools are charging high school fees. I urge our national parliament to intervene in this case because this order will affect us,” he said.
Mr. Manyiel said the government should give some grants such that private schools could comply with the order to unify school fees across the country.
He emphasized that they were paying the high cost of renting and paying teachers was one of the most pressing issues, which made them charge various fees to maintain education standards.