Aggrieved parents of pupils of Morning Star School in Accra on Monday descended on the school, requesting an immediate negotiation of fees for “online tuition services”, following demands for payment of "third term fees" by the school.
The school had served notices that fees should be paid by August 10, 2020, offering parents a flat discount of GH¢125.00 ahead of end of term examinations scheduled from August 17-21.
However the parents say they are unable to pay full fees (some nearly GH¢2,500) for the “online tuition services” and that they can support the programme with GH¢200 a month, with some describing the school’s discount offer as pittance amounting to a drop in the ocean.
A petition presented to the school management which was signed by the PTA Chairman and Secretary, Mr. Michael Mbroh and Mrs. Bertha Appiah-Gyapong respectively, representing parents on the PTA, described the school’s demand as inconsiderate and that parents were not obliged or cannot be compelled to pay the fees.
The group also asked management of Morning Star School to desist from harassing and threatening parents in demanding the so called "third term fees", saying “No parent is obliged to let the ward write "third term exams".
“The online service engagement or service being rendered is not compulsory until mutually agreed by Management and parents”, the petition said, adding, “That management and parents need to discuss and agree on the modalities and quality of the proposed online services.”
The aggrieved parents emphasized the importance of holding “proper dialogue and deliberations in an atmosphere of mutual respect”, and explained that as crucial stakeholders, parents especially must have a voice and must be heard in the bid to maintain a healthy relationship with the school authorities for the sake of the children.
“Accordingly, we are by this communication, demanding an emergency PTA Meeting to resolve the current issues for our mutual benefit. We hereby propose a meeting at the school or a virtual meeting on or before the week ending August 14, 2020.”
Briefing Graphic Online, the PTA Chairman, Mr. Michael Mbroh, who urged parents to remain calm and desist from paying the "third term fees until management met with parents and came to an amicable solution", insisted that parents were not obliged to let their children write the third term exams.
He recalled a Ministry of Education observation that schools were not likely to reopen come September, saying, “That meant that online was going to be the order of the day, thus per the advice from the Ministry, there should be a consensus building between parents and management of the school.”
He lamented unsuccessful attempts to meet with school management on the issue and said Monday’s petition was to launch a final appeal and to hopefully bring a closure to the issue whose outcome would indicate their next course of action.
“Parents believe MSS can and should do far better than a discount of GH₵125 on fees, especially when compared to discounts being offered by other schools who also lack external funding support and rely heavily on school fees payments for revenue generation”, he said. Mr. Michael Barnor, a parent, also reiterated the need for effective dialogue with the management of the school to agree on a meaningful amount to support the process.
He told the press that with the ongoing online learning, parents were sometimes forced to teach their children due to challenges with internet access and accessing the learning materials.
“We sometimes have to teach our children ourselves, thus to pay full fees with an inconsiderate discount for online engagement is not the way to go. We are hoping that the Ministry of Education and other bodies will pick this up and resolve the issue”, he said.
Another parent, Mr. Sidney Krow, told the press: “We are being asked to pay in full, over GH₵2,000 for fees, and we think that is not a fair deal.”