Caption:?Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on the schools to refund all advance payments made for the 2014 school year, to the parents.
And, the Council is urging parents not to pay any new fees or levies to the schools when the school opens next year ? as all school fees for next year will be catered by the government.
The only fees that school management can collect from parents now are the outstanding levies for and before 2013.
Some schools may be hesitant to refund advance fees paid to them by parents last year. The Council is aware of one school which has told parents that advance fees paid will only be refunded once the school receives Government grant from the Ministry of Education. In this case, it is the school?s Parents and Teachers Association making the call and not the school manager or the principal.
The Council finds this unacceptable, in light of Government?s declaration for free education for all from 2014.
The school managements must take the frontline and work closely with the Ministry of Education in ensuring that parents get their money back. This money belongs to the parents, some of who may have gone out of their way to pay advance fee to secure places for their children or just to ease their financial burden when schools open next year.
The schools had received the advance payment while no services had been delivered and now, with Government?s initiative to make education free ? there is really no legitimate reason not to refund people?s money.
In a country, where families are struggling to upgrade their standard of living, education then becomes crucial to them as it opens doors to progress ? The council, therefore, keeps a tab on such practices to ensure Government?s effort to provide ?education to all? is not derailed by school managements and principals.
The Council is also calling on the Ministry of Education to come down hard on those schools which refuse to refund parents their money.