…calls for Govt oversight body to regulate private schoolsOver 172 parents of children attending Maes Schools have registered their disapproval with the sudden hike in fees for the Christmas term and are calling on Government to set up an oversight body to regulate the operations of private schools in Guyana.This move comes even as the Government removed the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on education in its 2018 Budget.According to the parents, they received notice of the increase just before schoolMae’s Schoolclosed for Easter, indicating school fees for the Christmas term will be increased by up to 42 per cent depending on the grade.For Playgroup, fees raised from $35,000 per term to $50,000; Nursery $45,000 to $60,000; Primary Grades One to Four $60,000 to $75,000; Grade Five, $70,000 ($60,000 + $10,000 lessons fee); Grade Six from $70,000 (60,000 + 10,000 lessons fee) to $80,000 ($60,000 + $20,000 lessons fee). Additionally, this publication was told that fees for the secondary department was also raised from $80,000 to $90,000.“We call for a meeting to be held with the school’s administration and the parents to discuss our concerns and a resuscitated PTA. We call for a decrease in the percentage of the fee raise to under 14 per cent across the board. We call for a regulatory body to be set up by the relevant authority to oversee the operation of private schools in Guyana, since it is a highly unregulated sector with little or no consumer protection or relevant legislation,” the parents said in a statement to the media.The parents have since written to the school’s administrator, Stacey French, asking for justification for the excessive increase in lieu of the removal of VAT on education.The response given was that the school’s costs to do business have increased as well as the challenge of hiring teachers, who are both motivated and experienced, in addition to overall operational costs. However, according to the parents, there is no mention of the direct improvement to the school’s existing facilities such as poor ventilation and washroom facilities.They noted that they are not against a reasonable raise in the fees but are angry at the excessively high percentage. “It may have been better to increase fees incrementally starting below 14 per cent to cushion the effect,” the statement said.According to the parents, ironically, the administration of Maes Schools stood with parents, who were against 14 per cent VAT on education last year but are now adding more than double that burden to the shoulders of parents. “We doubt this is what the Ministry of Finance intended as action by private schools when Minister Jordan announced the removal of VAT on private education, since the challenges faced by parents remain the same,” the statement said.“Yes we can move our children to other schools, whether public or private, but we wish to register our discontent and dissatisfaction with the school’s exploitative and rigid decision without any discussion or regard,” it added.The parents are contemplating their next move since they claim that administration is ignoring their request to meet.