School heads call for clarity on ‘free education’ pronouncements

By Sailu Bah

Some of the head teachers and teachers in lower basic schools within Banjul and Kanifing Municipality have said that government should make it clear to parents and the entire public what the government school grants cover as free education for lower basic school.

According to some heads of schools within Banjul and Kanifing Municipality though government pays money into the school’s account, this money can be accessible to principals only after it has gone through certain processes. They said that the heads of schools will list down all necessary items or things needed by their school with the associated costs and signed by the Parents Teachers Association’s Chairperson before it is taken to the Regional director for approval. This money they said is for items needed by the schools and to take care of other needs of the school including student school fees but not for students’ books or uniform.

“The school grants sent by government was communicated as free education for primary school children and this is making parents to think that now they don’t have to buy anything for their children anymore since the government in an initial stage has announced on the state media that there is free education for students,” says a head teacher of a lower basic school.

It was indicated that some of the parents do not even bother to buy exercise books for their children who will be left like that without any book. A head teacher further stated that government provides text books for only the core subjects but not all books that are needed by students for learning.

A parent whose children attend school in Banjul said the children are not paying school fees, but they are asked to buy books and school uniforms for their two children.

Another parent whose child attends school in Banjul said she is not paying school fees for his son but she has spent almost D450 on his child on books and other school items. She also revealed that she is paying D100 for study fees for her child.

Foroyaa has conducted a series of investigations in different schools in Banjul and Serrekunda and will continue to update you on this issue.