The past year may have been the year of talk about the economic structural adjustment programme, which we prefer to call simply the structural adjustment programme since several other things apart from the economy have to be adjusted. As one of our contributors says it is also a stomach adjustment programme.
This year marks the beginning of the bitter struggle to make ends meet as we start feeling the pinch of ESAP, which we might as well call Education Structural Adjustment Programme, because those who will be worst affected appear to be parents with children at school.
Basic commodities have gone up. Bus fares are up. Uniforms have gone up by some 70 per cent. Sugar is no longer that sweet. School fees at primary school level are now in force and examination fees are going up as well.
Indeed while The Insider has nothing against the reintroduction of school fees, on top of levies and general purpose fees, since we have to pay for education of our children -will it not be fairer if parents were allowed to pay everything in instalments, as we already do with school fees which are paid on a termly basis?
It is quite obvious that with examination fees going up to $56 a subject and with most pupils doing an average of eight subjects, the examination fees are already much higher than the school fees which are paid termly yet the examination fees are wanted in one goal and in February of all months.
Honestly, someone must seriously think about this. Parents have no money in January as they will have used it during the festive period. At the end of that month they pay part of their debts and finish these in February.
To expect them to raise some $450 in one goal is rather asking for too much. And if the pupil does not write the examination it means the parents have wasted the child’s four years -in fact, the whole 11 years of schooling.
Perhaps our MPs should lobby more for the spreading of the payment of examination fees rather than debate the reintroduction of school fees. After all if we are only going to raise $95 million from these fees to finance a budget of $1.5 billion, we ought to realise that something is terribly wrong?
After all, we might cry (wolf’s tears) that the poor will not be able to afford to send their children to school but with that free education are we helping the poor when, because of lack of proper infrastructure, all their children end up with Us at the end of 11 years and are therefore unemployable?
Let us not politick with other people’s children because most politicians are quite aware that the standard of education, even in former Group A schools, is deteriorating at such an alarming rate that most parents are opting to send their children to private schools.
There is a mistaken assumption that most of these people can afford. Not all. They simply want to ensure a better future for their children.