MASERU — Parliament has formed a special team to investigate the impact of the recent school fees hike on school enrolment across the country.
The team, made up of 24 MPs, is a reaction to a public outcry sparked by the new fees which came into effect in January.
The school fees hike was one of the major decisions made by the coalition government after coming to power last June.
Fees in government-controlled schools were increased by between 23.8 and 28.1 percent.
The government claims the increase was a result of wide consultations with principals who apparently are the ones who pushed for the review.
Parents have however complained that the increase will force many children out of school.
There are unconfirmed reports that some students have already dropped out of school because they cannot afford the new fees.
The team which has been divided into two groups of 12 is expected to visit 40 schools across the country.
One group will visit schools in the southern districts while the other will cover those in the northern districts.
The tour which began on Monday is expected to be completed on February 26 when the team will meet at Semonkong High School to discuss its findings.
The team will interview principals from selected schools, 15 to 20 students per school, six teachers per every 300 pupils, 25 parents per 200 students and all members of a school board.
Last October opposition Democratic Congress (DC)’s Makhaleng constituency MP, Mootsi Lehata, argued that Education Minister ’Makabelo Mosothoane’s decision to hike fees will hit hard parents who were already struggling to educate their children.
Lehata moved a motion to have the decision reversed immediately.
After parliament failed to agree on the way forward the leader of Marematlou Freedom Party, Moeketse Malebo, who is also the leader of the bloc of minority parties in the august House, suggested that the issue be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Social Cluster for further investigation.
The 24-member team is made up of MPs from that portfolio committee which is chaired by Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) backbencher, Tšoanelo Ramakeoane.
According to a circular to principals dated June 20, 2012 students at a theoretical day government school had to pay M1 115 a year, up from the previous M900.
Those in technical government schools were made to pay M1 215 a year, an increase of M215.
Students in boarding government schools which offer theoretical subjects only were forced to fork out M2 863 up from M2 400.
Students in boarding government schools that offer technical subjects, who were paying M2 400 per annum, were now expected to pay an extra M563 for their education.
Education spokesperson Mary Mokemane said the increases had been made after “extensive consultations with school proprietors, educational secretariats and principals”.