THE hefty registration and annual fees introduced by the Ministry of Education for private schools will force them to close as many of them cannot afford to pay.
Already, two private schools in Lusaka have closed with many more expected to follow suit because of the astronomical fees.
Private Schools Association of Zambia chairperson Henry Kwalombota said in an interview yesterday that many of his members have complained about the hefty registration fees.
Mr Kwalombota said if the fees were not addressed, they would lead to the closure of many schools in the country.
The newly established Teaching Council of Zambia, under the Ministry of Education, recently introduced fees for application, inspection and registration which in some cases have gone up by more than 100 percent.
The total annual fee for application and inspection, in the case of early childhood schools is K6000, primary schools are pegged at K8000 while secondary schools are at K10 000 with the annual renewals set at K500.
Mr Kwalobota said the Teaching Council of Zambia should revise the fees, because they would cause the closure of many private schools countrywide.
Mr Kwalombota confirmed the closure of two schools that were unable to pay and that many more could close should the fees continue.
“We are receiving a good response from the Ministry of Education who appear to be willing to help us in addressing the situation, and we only hope that we will be supported, especially that the ministry has taken over the registration. We have a number of private schools in the country that could be affected,” he said.
Mr Kwalombota said it was imperative that the council consulted widely on how private schools operated, considering that some schools were situated in rural areas and could find difficulties meeting the demand. He said private schools had made an enormous contribution to national standards of education, and therefore their closure would be a national disaster. Mr Kwalombota said the relevant authorities were yet to meet to chart the way forward and ensure all the challenges were settled.
This follows complaints by private schools that the huge increase would adversely affect the education system.
“The Ministry of Education had earlier announced March 31, 2015 as deadline for registration and that could have been a disaster, and still we are appealing to the Teaching Council of Zambia to consider reducing the fees.”
The Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education has since extended the grace period for registration of all private schools to June 30, 2015. Ministry spokesperson Hillary Chipango said the private schools were given enough time to enable them meet the deadline.
“To this effect the ministry has extended the registration period to June 30, instead of March 31,” he said.
Recently Education Minister Dr Michael Kaingu announced that the ministry had taken over the registration of private schools from the Teaching Council of Zambia.