A few years ago, the Gambia Government announced the free education policy. This is a policy which aims to make education accessible and affordable to all Gambian children at least up to senior school level. Seeing that education is the only way to pull countries and individuals out of poverty, it was a welcome policy because it enabled children of poor parents to also attain at least that level of education.
In the new policy, government took over the payment of all levies from parents. The government pays school fees for every child, pays for the books and other levies which parents used to pay. Additionally, it forbade schools from charging any fees. This means that parents are not supposed to pay any money to schools, whatsoever.
It is important this is made widely known not only to schools and education actors, but to parents as well. Seeing that many parents are eager for their children to have an education, they will be willing to pay whatever they can to ensure that their children are not left out. It is therefore important for them (the parents) to be made aware that they are not expected – or supposed to – pay any levies at schools.
This is for all government-run and the grant-aided schools where government is responsible for the payments of salaries of the teachers. It is however important to know that it does not include the privately run and operated schools.
Again, the fees that government pays do not include uniforms, exercise books, and other stationery. These can – and should be bought – by parents themselves. All forms of payments therefore, like school fees, book bills, PTA funds etc. are prohibited.
Parents in the Gambia should therefore take full advantage of this policy and ensure that their children go to school. In this way, we will be able to attain the universal literacy that is necessary for development.