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A New School Fees Hike Suggested As Solution For Deteriorating Educational Standards
According to the parents, the increments which will be of voluntary nature are meant to create income support for teachers of Hargeysa's public schools. Having been alarmed by deteriorating conditions of education at public schools, the parents see the increase as a necessary incentive for improving the performance of teachers.
Low pay at the rate of roughly $30 a month has forced many of the best teachers at Hargeysa's public schools to seek employment elsewhere. Most of them were recruited by private schools, which pay as high as $200 a month.
The loss of qualified teachers led to lower teaching activities at public schools. A high level of absenteeism among teachers has also been reported.
Many parents withdrew their children from public schools in favor of enrolling them in private schools.
Despite an estimated average dropout rate of 20% at all primary schools, however almost all public schools have enrollments that are at least 40% greater than the capacity that their buildings can accommodate.
Though public schools in other parts of the country are faced with similar problems, however according to educators, Hargeysa's schools fared the worst in terms of delivery and education quality.
Shocked by the scale of deterioration, parents committees of a number of schools came together two weeks ago to discuss how to respond. Last week they also met with school teachers and administrators in order to get their views as to the causes of the schooling problems and how these should be addressed.
The teachers highlighted their low salaries as a demoralizing factor that needs to be addressed urgently.
Representatives of parental committees agreed in principle to announce a voluntary increase of school fees.
Meanwhile Somaliland minister of Education Hassan M. Warsame said that his ministry was not involved in the parents initiative for raising school fees. "We have been aware about suggestions being raised with regard to a new school fees hike but the ministry wouldn't have a role in any increment."
The minister said he could understand the concerns of the parents over the low wages received by school teachers.
"Though all schools suffer from similar problems, however it is a fact that Hargeysa schools are the most deprived" he added.
The intra-school parents committee is expected to hold further consultation meetings next week before making a full announcement on the details of its proposed new school fees hike.