Parents and students have voiced their complaints against schools that are requiring them to pay full tuition fees while classes are being taught online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
More than two weeks ago, SIS International School announced that its Lucky Star branch in Phnom Penh would teach online because one of the students’ parents in Grade 6 tested positive for COVID-19 related to the February 20 Community Incident.
A father of a student from SIS International School expressed his frustration after the school gave him three days to pay the tuition fees. He did not mention how much he needs to pay but said that some of the fees are supposed to be charges for classroom or campus activities.
“I don’t understand why I have to pay the same amount when my child is already learning at home. Charges should not be the same or adjusted,” he said.
A mother whose daughter is enrolled in ASEAN International School showed Khmer Times the breakdown of the $574 she needed to pay, which covers around three months of the school’s tuition fee.
According to her, the $574 includes bus fees that costs $50, lunch for $120 and noon care where the children can rest or take a nap which costs $60.
She said: “It is not right that we are paying for these charges when the students are not in the school anymore. Why would we still have to pay for the bus fee, lunch and noon care when in fact the kids are at home?”
According to her, a 10 to 15 minute video lesson is being sent to the student every morning, serving as their online lesson.
Khmer Times tried to contact ASEAN International School through their Facebook page, however, did not receive a response.
Social Action for Community and Development (SACD), a non-governmental organisation, has gathered complaints from women, farmers and youths expressing the same concern about tight deadlines set by the schools to pay tuition fees, despite the COVID-19 situation where jobs and schools are shuttered prompting the students to stay at home.
A university student named Nith said to SACD: ′′Schools have not waived tuition fees or reduced tuition fees for students during the COVID-19 crisis, yet we continue to learn online while the quality of education remains at stake.”
She said her parents were farmers and they can hardly afford to support her education as their income from selling rice has decreased.
Hoy Sarun, a fourth-year student enrolled at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said her family’s livelihood has been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To be able to finish her education, she has been saving money from selling rice, vegetables and chicken to use for her tuition fees.
“We have tried borrowing money from our neighbours just to pay the school fee because saving money right now is very difficult. Our priority is to have food to be served on the table every day,” she said.
However, with the economic situation in the country right now, her family and their farming have been severely affected.
Sarun added that the shift to online learning is also costly. She constantly needs to buy a phone card for the internet connection and in their area the connection is very weak. It is just like throwing up her hard-earned money up into the air.
“I hope the school will allow us to pay the tuition fee in installments, like 10 to 20 percent, until we will be able to pay in full. The life of a student from a family whose income relies on farming is really hard right now,” she said.
This content was originally published here.