(ERGO) – Thousands of school children in Somaliland have been withdrawn from schools by their parents over the past year because state-employed teachers have been imposing fees to bump up their salaries.
In Hargeisa, almost 4,500 children have been pulled out of state-run schools by their parents, who cannot afford to pay the fees that are being levied of around $2.5 per student.
Teachers currently receive a state salary of $70 a month and have demanded a raise to $120. Since last year, they have been charging a fee per child to make up the difference in their expected salaries.
The director of Somaliland’s education ministry, Mohamed Farah Hareed, told Radio Ergo that the ministry is aware of the numbers of children who have dropped out of school. He said the government planned to raise the salaries for teachers to cover the amount being charged to the parents.
Siraad Abdi Hassan, a mother of five, withdrew her three children from Nasahablood primary school six months ago. Her children had already been suspended because she was two months behind in the payment of fees. She first enrolled her children at school in 2011 when the previous Somaliland administration launched free primary education.
“I find it hard to find their daily food, so where do I get money for school fees?” Siraad said.
She cannot afford $7.5 in school fees but is very worried about how her children will catch up if they continue to be out of school.
Siraad, a single mother, has a stall where she sells bananas making $1-2 a day at most. This is barely enough for the food and $20 rent. Parents also have to buy school uniform and stationery for their children.
Private schools in Hargeisa charge between $10-25 monthly fees per child. Fees of $8 apply at state-run secondary schools in Somaliland.