Last week marked the beginning of the first term for most schools across the country. This is usually a financially challenging period for parents who have to pay school fees, with most private schools charging between Shs800, 000 and Shs1, 300, 000.
Yet, besides the high tuition fees, many schools these days demand excessive amounts for functional fees and compulsory requirements from students. This newspaper has received several letters from parents; raising concern about some requirements.
Granted, schools have every right to ask parents for basic requirements. And that is not in contention. What parents are concerned about is quantity (and types) of items demanded. In the past, schools required each student to carry at least two brooms, toilet paper, half a dozen of pens and pencils and a dozen or two of books and a bar of washing soap. However, some schools now demand that a student carries at least four bars of washing soap, a kilo of washing powder, more than one tin of paint, a bag of cement, more than three kilos of sugar, two trays of eggs, wheat flour, cooking oil, mineral water, among other items.
These items, according to a parent who shared the list with us, must be presented at the entrance; otherwise the student will not be allowed access to the school.
While different schools have varying types and quantity of requirements, these items are handed over to the school administration, ostensibly to redistribute to students during the term by the administrators. But if parents say these demands are unfair, then schools should review them.
There should be a clear explanation on why certain items are required. For instance, are parents required to buy food items such as eggs, wheat flour or sugar for their children? Does a primary school child accumulate laundry that uses up four large bars of soap in three months? Does a Primary One pupil need two dozens of 96-paged books in just one term?
These are crucial questions that schools need to take into consideration when levying fees and other requirements. Unless schools require painting every term, it is unrealistic for students to carry a tin or two of paint every term.
Schools should work closely with parents and the Ministry of Education and Sports to find a compromise. While requirements are important, they should be realistic.
The issue: Protecting forests
Our view: Schools should work closely with parents and the Ministry of Education and Sports to find a compromise. While requirements are important, they should be realistic.