By PREMILA KUMAR, CEO, CONSUMER COUNCIL OF FIJI
Schools cannot demand parents to pay more than one term’s school fees at the beginning of the year. Parents therefore must be aware and not allow schools to bully them with its demands.
The Council has received complaints in the past where schools had demanded both first and second term school fees upfront at the start of a new school year. There are other schools who demanded school fees for the whole year before the child is enrolled.
This is not acceptable as you cannot pay for something that will be delivered later in the year or at the end of the year. The Council would like to advice the parents that schools are in no position to make demands and pressure them to pay school fees for other school terms so long as they pay first term fees. Parents should not be financially burdened by schools unless they willingly pay fees for the whole year.
The Education Ministry has clarified that there is no such thing as upfront payment as parent’s financial obligations can always be discussed with the school head teachers. No student is to be turned away from school for non-payment of fees under Government’s initiative on education for all.
Parents must lodge their complaint with the Council or Ministry of Education if they are victimized.
Parents of all primary schools students are also reminded that they are only required to buy exercise books as all text books are provided by the Government to the schools.
Schools must revise booklists issued to students to ensure that only those books to be purchased are on the list. The Council is aware that school’s laxity in updating the book list has resulted in a number of parents buying text books as well.
Furthermore, walk-a-thon or any other related event is seen as a fundraising event which is optional. Therefore, schools are not to demand payment for fundraising and make it sound compulsory by sending children home.
The Consumer Council is reminding all school heads and managements to follow the rules and procedures laid out by the Education Ministry with the opening of schools in two weeks time. Parents must not endure any unnecessary pressure from schools.