School Authorities Ignoring Graduation Requirements?

By Melissa Chea-Annan

An investigation conducted by this paper has revealed that many school administrators in Monrovia and its environs are charging huge sum of money as graduation fees despite the Government’s warning.   Recently, the Ministry of Education called on all school administrators throughout the country to desist from imposing high fees on students who are expected to graduate from Kindergarten, Elementary, Junior High and High School, in the name of “Graduation Fees”.

A document under the signature of Minister Etmonia-David-Tarpeh called on all public and private school administrators to ensure that graduating students from the Kindergarten to 9th grade levels must pay L$ 500 as graduation fees while those from the from the 12th grade level are required to pay L$ 1,500.

Though the Minister didn’t come out with punitive measures for schools that would go contrary to the Ministry’s mandate, she pleaded with school authorities to abide by the directive to ensure “successful graduation programs.”

Minister Tarpeh reiterated that school administrators are permitted to conduct their graduation ceremonies without the results from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), since the results would be released in August this year.

According to Minister Tarpeh, all school authorities are expected to be sensitive to the economic constraints parents are faced with and the high cost of graduation fees will be unbearable for those parents.

Despite the Ministry’s mandate, The INQUIRER’s investigation discovered that many schools in Monrovia and its environs are demanding that their graduating students pay fees as high as US$ 150 before obtaining clearance for graduation.

The INQUIRER’s investigation further revealed that some of the school administrators are also demanding that certain portion of the fees they are demanding from the students would be used for the payment of Rental Halls in which their ceremonies would be held.

The INQUIRER also gathered information that some schools are demanding that each K-2 graduate pays US$ 5 for ‘Class Fun’, US$ 10 for ‘Class T-Shirt’, US$ 50 for ‘Graduation Fees’, US$ 10 for ‘Class Party’ and US$ 35 for ‘Dinner’.

Some parents, who spoke to The INQUIRER early this week, complained that the school administrators are exploiting them, especially at a time where they are struggling to raise funds for the next school year.

The parents expressed regrets that their kids might not graduate since they cannot afford the cost of the graduation due to their low income.

The parents are calling on the Liberian Government to ensure that punitive measures are taken on schools that would violate its mandate. “Why would the school ask young babies to pay money for dinner?” one of them wondered.