By Mustapha Jallow
Grade six (6) students at Ndow’s Comprehensive primary school are set to sit exams on 16th July 2020 – but Education Minister Claudia Cole said she is not aware of such and that she did not give any approval for the school to do so.
When reporters asked her about this development at her office, the Education Minister said: “I’m not aware, and I have not given any permission to any school for the grade 6 exams.’’
Ndow’s staff and proprietress Mrs Catherine Harris Ndow confirmed that they got a letter from the Directorate at the Region 1 Education Office for their grade six students to sit the exam.
They said: “This is not an external exam, but an internal exam. We have the copy of the letter with us and it contained the stamp of the ministry.’’
“We went to the region1 education office and the directorate replied and said ‘go ahead with your internal exam’. We are directly answerable to the regional office,’’ a senior staff said.
However, the proprietress declined to make further comment on the matter and referred the reporter back to the ministry.
While at the school premises, it was observed that parents were going in and out of the school with children to pay school fees for their children to sit the exam. Senior teachers confirmed that the grade 6 students will sit their exam today.
Two parents who spoke to the reporter said they each paid D2550 as school fee – to ensure their children do not miss the exam. In addition to this, they said they were also asked to buy a form at D150 at the school.
One of them said: “The school notified us that their staff are supposed to be paid salary, but they couldn’t do that without the students paying school fees and taking the exams. I was thinking that the government was going to subvent the private schools.’’
“I should have paid the fee since last week, but I was disturbed, I found it difficult to raise the money. I’ve 3 children, so I cannot pay for one and leave the rest – that’s not right. I struggled until I was able to pay for 3 of them to sit the exam today (16th July),’’ one of the concerned parents said.
Parents described the payment of fees as a challenge to them as they thought the government could have taken care of all this matter since most of them are cash strapped owing to COVD-19.
They called on the government, especially the Education Ministry to support private schools as most of them are facing challenges due to the coronavirus.