As the new academic year began on Monday, the Sierra Leone government has warned privately run schools against unlawful increment of tuition fees.

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An official of the Ministry of Education said Monday that any principal or head of school who increase its tuition fees against what the government would accept will be forced to refund parents.

Speaking on the matter, Brima Michael Turay, Public Relations Officer of the ministry of Education said they have sent letters to all schools to the effect. He said about 90 percent of the over 900 private schools nationwide whom they sent letters to have responded to a request for a verification tour to inspect school facilities and ascertain fees.

The Education ministry wants to ensure that any fee charged commensurate with the services provided, Turay said.

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The government and private schools have been at loggerheads since last year since the introduction of two terms per academic year. This reduction from three to two terms in the school calendar was occasioned by the Ebola epidemic.

For the whole of 2014 schools were shut down. When they opened early in 2015 the first term had already gone. The government said the two terms had to remain in place until the discrepancy created is normalized.

But for private school owners this means a loss in revenue because of the removal of a term. Some of them want to make up for that by increasing their tuition fees.

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One school was forcefully shut down last year due to the disagreement over the issue.

“Whatever charges any school is doing, they are doing it at their detriment,” said Turay, who is also Director of School Broadcasting at the Ministry of Education.