By Frederick Philander
“The suggestion that school fees in Namibia be abolished can only become a reality if the Government increases the per capita funding of learners in all the regions in the country.”
This was the response to a proposal contained last week in a UNICEF report, by the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN).
“By now it is common knowledge that education is the key to a successful future. In Namibia as per the Constitution basic education to all children is free. However, one needs to draw the distinction between school fees and school development funds,” said the vice president of TUN, Chanville Mackrill, on inquiry.
According to him school fees are not compulsory because no child needs to pay to belong to a school because education is free.
“But school development funds are a much needed commodity for the development of every school in terms of equally much needed infrastructure and also to maintain the expected high quality education to learners,” he said.
Mackrill warned the authorities to be wary of the fact that economically able parents can easily exploit the proposal of the abolishment of school fees in the country.
“Totally abolishing school fees may compromise the responsibility of parents towards their children’s education, something the country cannot afford.
Certain people demand quality education, but to deliver such quality education demands funding. Without such funding most schools suffer.
Frustrations and stress increase to unexpected levels when school budgets are lacking sufficient money to execute plans,” he said.
TUN will support the abolishment of school fees if it is aimed at orphans and vulnerable children (OVC )especially those schools in rural areas.
“It is a noble idea to make such a proposal to ensure access to education by OVC. However, having children drop out of school due to the fact that they cannot pay school fees and spew them out into the labour market to fend for themselves will be a shame,” the vice president concluded.