Friday, May 29, 2009

High academic costs worry parents despite free education claims

Written by KNG

Parents of students are anxious about high school fees in the face of the Burmese junta’s claim of providing free education, even as all government schools from the primary to the high school-level in the country opening on June 1 (Monday), said local sources.

This week, May 25 to 29 was the period of school enrollment and hundreds of thousands of students are enrolling themselves in schools throughout the country, said students.

A student’s father and a member of the Parents-Teachers Committee in a middle school in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma's northern Kachin State told KNG today, "At the time of enrollment, all schools in the town are yet to collect any fee from the students' parents. But they will collect fees or funds on one pretext or the other soon."

He said that schools in the town find it impossible to carry on through the entire academic year without collecting essential fees or funds from the students' parents every year. He blamed the junta's Ministry of Education for issuing instructions to impart free education without providing financial support to the government schools in Myitkyina.

According to members of the Parents-Teachers Committee of the State Middle School No.(2) in Myitkyina, the school caters to over 1,000 students every academic year and the committee has to collect over 2 million Kyat equivalent to US$1,961 from students' parents. In effect, the school is totally run with fees collected from students' parents, said committee sources.

On the other hand, well-known high schools in the town like the Basic State High School No. 1 and No. 3 collect between 5 million Kyat (equivalent to US$4,902) and 10 million Kyat (equivalent to US$9,804) for running the school from students' parents each year, said sources who know how the school functions.

The fees collected from students' parents are spent in new school constructions, awarding teachers and outstanding students, meeting costs, expenditure for welcoming dignitaries and other direct expenses like buying chalk, stationery and stationery materials and other miscellaneous requirements, said local sources.

Besides, schools also collect money from students' parents whenever there are celebrations or other functions in the schools, said parents.

Usually, the students in government schools are not taught their lessons properly in the schools. They all have to take special tuitions outside schools by paying lots of money, said students.

According to students' parents, taking tuitions from their class teachers or well known non-school teachers becomes essential to pass the grade X - the government examination.

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