NEWS

School Heads Warned

Only one fundraiser per year, with approval from ministry, says Minister
16 May 2022 15:29
School Heads Warned
Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Premila Kumar Photo: Ronald Kumar

Heads of schools who knowingly allow the collection of levies and donations from parents will be taken to task.

That was the warning from the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, Premila Kumar.

The warning comes after several reports were received by the Ministry of Education of some teachers and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) demanding a levy from parents to help with the upkeep of classrooms and school.

A school in Korovou, Tailevu has been brought to the attention of the ministry.  Ms Kumar is expected to personally visit the school this week to investigate the matter.

She said the free education grant had been paid out to schools for the upkeep of classrooms and the school compound.

Parents and guardians should not be burdened with any extra expenses, she said.

“The Ministry of Education has received a number of complaints from schools, not only in the urban areas, but from rural areas too,” she said.

“Some teachers and PTAs are asking parents to pay a levy, or to raise some cash so that schools could purchase curtains and other materials for the classrooms. They are also doing this to organise food.”

Ms Kumar was clearly disappointed when asked for a comment.

“I’m disappointed in the sense that the head of school should know the ministry’s policy and that we do not encourage any of those things,” she said.

“It is disappointing that they are trying to burden parents and children and this must stop.

“In fact, there is one school in Korovou where the parents were asked to pay $20.  The parents paid the $20 and they produced the receipt to the Ministry of Education; they had notified us.

“We will be taking action against the head of school. They are not supposed to be entertaining such things.

“If we come to know that such a decision was made at the school management level, then he or she should have reported the matter to the ministry or sought guidance from us.

“In fact, the bursar was asked to collect this money so all these things happen and the head of school should have stopped this.”

She said another argument that had been received from parents was that they were doing it of their own free will and simply wanted to help out.

“But as far as the ministry is concerned, you don’t have to pay any levy, buy any curtains, don’t contribute to any food or whatsoever.

“There is no policy which allows heads of schools or school managers, teachers or parents to collect money.”

 

Ministry’s Policy on Fundraising

Ms Kumar has also clarified that in the school handbook, there was provision for only one fundraising.

“If a school wants to hold a fundraiser, they need to write to the Permanent Secretary to explain why they want to fundraise and what they will do with the funds.

The Education Minister also pointed to past examples.

“We all know what happened in the past where schools were fundraising and no one knew where the money went to. Schools were fundraising to buy computers and there were no computers bought.

“If schools want to fundraise, they can, but they have to justify the reasons why they want to fundraise.”

 

Parents speak out

A parent of the Tailevu School in question who spoke on the condition of not being named, said times were hard and to be asked to pay PTA levies was not acceptable, knowing that the Government had already paid the free education grants to schools.

Another parent at a Nasinu school said they were asked to contribute $5 to assist in the purchase of curtains. Later the same week, they were asked to bring a potluck each for the school’s feast day event.

Both parents hope that the matter would be investigated and that the ministry takes the necessary action.

Feedback: Inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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