THE beginning of a school term is often characterised with the disturbances concerning school dues. Students report to school but even before they can get their first meal or share a joke with their colleagues, the school bursar lurks in the vicinity like a bald-headed vulture watching over a carcass.
The bursar’s job like the vulture is to quickly pounce on their ‘prey’ without hesitation. In line with this, the bursar will quickly show up with a list of those who have paid their dues and then chase away those who have not.
In some schools, cards are given to those who have paid and only those with cards can attend class and even get food from the dinning.
The bursars tend to over look the fact that once the student eventually pays the school fees, he/she will have to pay for the whole term including the time he was chased from class or denied school meals which is in a way very unfair to the students.
We live in very difficult economic times and so it is never easy to have money for school fees ready in the wallet as soon as schools reopen.
Schools therefore ought to be a little bit more flexible because parents who delay to pay their children’s school fees often do so because of genuine financial problems and not mere stubbornness as the school authorities would want us to believe.
What I am trying to point out here is that most parents do appreciate and understand the value of investing in education and that is why they deserve to be treated with a decent degree of consideration as they try to look for this money.
School authorities need to realise that sometimes the new term begins at a time when some salary earners have not yet received their pay but will do so eventually and can then be in position to pay.
In such cases it is only fair to wait a bit before chasing away their children from school.
Sometimes the bread winner of the family may be away on a work related trip and therefore not in position to effect the financial transaction necessary to clear the school fees bill at that time.
Why not wait a while for this parent to return from Darfur or wherever they may have gone (in search for money by the way)?
A parent with a child in school would certainly love to have the school bill cleared as early as possible but this may not always be the case.
It is therefore fair enough to be considerate with these good intentioned people. Schools must listen to the problems that parents may have faced that made to difficult for them to pay the school fees in time.
This should be done in the same way that schools love to tell the parents about the problems they are facing.
Why would a headmaster pride himself in informing a gathering of parents about how his school has got only two computers yet he cannot listen to one parent who informs him about how he had just lost a wife and was not in position to raise money in time to pay the son’s school dues?
Since most school authorities also purchase school supplies on credit, it should not be so difficult for them to understand and let some few students to attend class as their parents look for the money owed to them.
A grace period of say three to four weeks can be set aside for those who have not cleared school dues to do so instead of hounding them out of school and then demanding that they pay the full amount that covers even the days they were barred from attending any school activity including their right to feed.
I guess all this point to the poor customer care systems that exist in a number of our schools.