The Zambian Government has announced that it has reduced all fees paid in public and grant aided schools with effect from next term
General Education Minister David Mabumba told Parliament that his Ministry has directed that pupils in Grades 8 to 12 should pay K150 user fees in schools in remote areas while K200 user fees should be paid by pupils in other schools per term.
For boarding schools, the Ministry has directed that pupils should pay an amount not exceeding K1, 000 per term as boarding fees.
Mr Mabumba said schools charging less than K1, 000 per term are at liberty to maintain their current fees.
He said pupils whose parents are engaged in subsistence farming can be allowed to pay fees in kind, e.g. a bag of maize or beans, goats, rice etc. which the school can translate into cash.
He said the revised school fees come into effect in the second term of 2019.
“With this guidance no additional charges should be demanded from learners either in cash (administration fee, affiliation fee, registration fee, practical fees, computer fees, learning material fees etc.) or in kind (cement, realm of paper, cobra, paint, slasher, hoe, mattress etc)”
He said, “While parents are partners in education provision through cost sharing, the Ministry has continued to minimize the cost of education on the part of the parents and guardians towards the education of their children.”
Mr Mabumba said the decision has made in order to ensure that as many children as possible access education services.
He said the Ministry has the responsibility to regulate the fees and in January, 2016 a circular on GCE and User Fees in Grant Aided and Public Schools which guided on the scale of fees to be charged was given.
“However, despite the guidance given, schools have continued to charge high fees and numerous complaints from the public and other stakeholders have been received over high school fees. My Ministry has not been impressed with this scenario over school fees,” he said.
On project fees, Mr Mabumba said School Head teachers, Parents Teachers Committees and School Boards that may have a compelling need to undertake a project at school and need to charge project fees should request for permission to do so from the Permanent Secretary through their District Education Board Secretaries and Provincial Education Officers.
He said a good and clear justification supported with documentary evidence should support the application as earlier guided.
“In order to mitigate financial constraints or difficulties in raising the approved fees which some Parents or Guardian may experience, school authorities should allow such pupils to pay their user fees in installments,” he said.
Mr Mabumba has since appealed to Aided Schools to be considerate when fixing school fees for their learners.
“The Ministry of General Education would appreciate a situation where fees charged by Aided Schools are comparable to the ones approved in Public Schools. It is hoped that this statement will help address the disparities in the school fees that schools have been charging,” he said.
He said the Ministry of General Education will not take kindly to any school Head teacher who will not adhere these directives.