Yellow card to international schools
The Ministry of Education and Technical Education has affirmed the ban on the collection of any fees for accreditation of international certificates or examination fees in foreign currency. The ministry said the act violates the Central Bank of Egypt and Currency Law. In case of infractions, the school will be referred to the authorities concerned for the application of the prescribed penalties in the law.
According to Shadi Zalata, the spokesman of the Ministry of Education and Technical Education, schools violating the rule will be referred to the ministry’s higher committee for international school affairs to be placed under its financial and administrative supervision. “Penalties on schools can include the revocation of their licence,” Zalata said.
This comes in response to complaints received by the ministry’s general administration for private and international education from some parents about certain international schools collecting fees for the accreditation of international certificates of various types (American, British, and French) at values exceeding the legally approved amounts, sometimes in foreign currency.
Khaled Al-Refaai, a bank accountant and father of three students in various educational stages at an international school, expressed his anger, describing private school owners as “traders” whose primary goal is to accumulate wealth without providing reasonable services. Al-Refaai said that just a few days earlier the school sent a note about the fees required for the accreditation of his children’s certificates as well as the registration fees for the exams. “The school required half the fees to be paid in foreign currency. It is not easy to obtain foreign currency as it is very expensive to buy,” Al-Refaai said.
He appealed to the minister to intervene quickly to protect parents “from the injustice imposed on them by international school owners”.
Khaled Mokhtar, chairman of the board of directors at an international school, stated “certificate accreditation and exams registration fees are paid in foreign currency. This has been the case since international schools were introduced into the country. It was then easy to provide foreign currency as the prices were not skyrocketing as nowadays,” Mokhtar said.
He said international schools in Egypt currently have many obligations and commitments related to the regular expenses of the academic year, including exam fees and certificate accreditation.
Badawi Allam, head of the Private Schools Owners Association, said he believed that it depends on each school’s regulations, and that agreements reached with parents determine the method of fee payment. Allam called on parents to cooperate with schools so that they can continue to provide services to students.
Zalata said that parents are encouraged to file complaints with the ministry to investigate any breaches. He also emphasised that the ministry’s bulletin regarding the required fees for the second semester in international schools has not yet been issued.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 8 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly