Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Philipo Mulugo

Announcement of guidelines and indicative fees structures for private schools has been postponed until next year to allow a thorough analysis on unit costs, the Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Philipo Mulugo has said.

“We thought we could do it this year but given its diversity we have learned that the matter needs to be studied thoroughly so as we come up with genuine decisions after having considered all the criteria,” he said.

Mr Mulugo was responding to a concern by the ‘Daily News’ over the weekend on the delay on the part of the ministry to announce the guidelines which were expected to take effect before schools reopened in January this year.

“We will soon hire an independent consultant who will go around the country to establish unit costs which we believe will differ from region to region and at the same time we will send an independent team from the ministry to conduct a similar study after which we will reach a decision,” he said.

Mr Mulugo further stated that the ministry expects that after the analysis work is done, they will be in a position to establish school categories and give guidelines on indicative fees.

“We may end up having up to six categories of schools, for example we must set standards to which qualities should international schools and academies have to justify their fees,” he said.

According to him, the new system will be flexible and will safeguard the interests of both parents and school owners.
“We cannot have all the schools charging similar fees but we can have a meaningful variation of fees in a systematic and a regulated manner,” he said.

In the current setting, the industry is operating unregulated in such a way that in some schools parents are forced to cough between 2m/- and 3m/- annually in privately owned schools.

Matters are made worse where some schools demand that the fees and other expenses be paid at once while others demand to be paid in foreign currency, especially US dollars. A random survey by this paper revealed that many private nursery schools charged between 1m/- and 1.5m/- per child annually.

However, the move to hire an independent consultant seems to go well with the demands of the schools’ owners issued through the Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO). The association had asked the government to engage an independent consultant to review costs involved in operating privately-owned schools and colleges.

TAMONGSCO National Chairman, Mahmood Mringo had called on the government to undertake enough research on the real costs before rushing to design an indicative fees structure. Mr Mringo said the purchasing power of most Tanzanians has dwindled by over 50 per cent threatening more than 500 schools whose survival depends on fees being paid by parents.

He said most schools were now in serious financial constraints that might force some of them to close down if they will go on charging unrealistic fees. He said 43 schools closed down in 2011.

By ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO, Tanzania Daily News

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