School Fees

Den_breejen_2011 Posted by Aart and Geesje den Breejen on Sun, 04 Mar 2012 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

“Madam, could we have our salary of January a bit earlier? The children are going back to school on Monday..”

It was Grace, our home help, during coffee time that morning when we were all enjoying our cup of hot coffee – in the dry season, mornings start off a bit cooler while the rest of the day is really hot. It’s the same every year.

In theory, education is free for kids that are going to primary government schools but in practice the parents are asked to pay money for the building fund, uniforms, writing materials, sitting exams and many other things. It is a struggle for most parents but they will do anything to get enough school fees for the first term.

Elize, our new volunteer for the coming months to do the Dutch home schooling in the afternoons, also works at a local government school and a private school during morning hours. Godfrey (watchman/gardener) and Grace were filling her in over coffee: government school classes generally consist of 100 pupils or more, with the teacher standing in front of the class and the first row of kids right there sitting at her feet on the floor. One thing will be sure, for Elize, it’ll be 3 months of very contrasting mornings and afternoons.

At the Vocational Training Center (VTC), most students have started their new course year now. Some are still getting their fees together and haven’t made it yet into the school compound. Those who did arrive are very keen to get a second chance to enroll in training. Many dropped out of the education system at an early stage and are therefore unable to attend other regular training institutions. Many young folk are just hanging out on the streets, trying to get odd jobs here and there. So, a practical training does give them a much better prospect on the job market.

Getting school fees together for a term at the VTC is a big issue for these youngsters, even though they only pay for their food so far (almost all trainees are boarding). Other costs like salaries of instructors and teaching materials are paid from different sources. The VTC is in the process of raising its percentage of self sustainability by working on local income generation for the school. It’s a slow process but is the only way forward. Raising the school fees too high will prevent too many needy students from entering the course.

“Madam, could I have payment for February and March as well please? Our landlord has problems with paying university fees for his son and demands an advance for the house we rent from him” It’s Grace again. The kids are back to school!