To pay or not to pay School Development Fund?

Ongwediva-While government has dismissed as false the rumours concerning the alleged re-introduction of the School Development Fund (SDF) at government schools, there are some educators who actually wish the rumour were true.

Although a number of school principals, mostly at primary and combined schools located among low-earning communities, are in favour of absolutely free education, principals at secondary schools, especially within towns, feel that SDF was a better option that helped to fund some of the day-to-day school operations.

In 2012, government abolished SDF and schools have been receiving grants from the Ministry of Education.

The educators, however, feel that the government grant is not enough to cater for school needs. As a result, some schools had to downgrade and cut on their usual spending to fit stretch the funds allocated by government. Others had to come up with extra activities such as school bazaars to raise funds so that they could maintain their standards.

The constitution is clear that primary education must be free, but when it comes to secondary education parents must pay. They can afford. Government should rather concentrate on primary education and tertiary education, which is more expensive than secondary education, said a school principal from Oshana Region. Another teacher told New Era that government funding to schools is a good idea, but only if it is sustainable and if government was giving the grant to schools at the beginning of the year.

Now, the problem is that the government financial year starts in April while school begins in January. If the schools were getting the money in January, then schools will not cry for SDF, another senior school teacher in Omusati Region adds.

Schools that reside among the rural poor are, however, grateful that they are receiving a government grant, as the SDF was never enough to cover their daily operations.

A principal at Ohangwena Region school said prior to the abolishment of the SDF, his school struggled to make end meet.

You cannot take a child out of school because of SDF, so it was difficult to enforce it. Some parents could obviously afford to pay, but they simply refused. In fact, there are children who are getting government grant as vulnerable but their parents too refused to pay SDF. Our community did not understand the importance of SDF, it was a struggle, he said.

This week, the Office of the President has refuted information that has been circulating on social media that government intends to make a U-turn on free education.

According to the fake post circulating on social media, President Hange Geingob had cancelled free education because government could no longer sustain the expenditure.

However, the secretary in the Office of the President, Albertus Aochamub, rebutted the information, saying there is no logic in the circulating text.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia