As if normal fees were not high enough already, schools came up with what they collectively call development fees. This, I have seen on fees slips for a couple of schools.
The figure for Gayaza High School is "a modest" 290,653 UGX. A modest 290K because it pales in comparison to St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK), whose development is so special that anyone who wishes to have their child admitted at the school will have to fork out all of 500,000 UGX.
So, what exactly does this development fee entail? Any teacher, student or school administrator in the house?
Is it the normal development as understood by a layman like me? Like, does the school have such specialists that they will look into the kid’s eyes and tell that he is not meant for school and he is better off becoming a footballer or a gym instructor?
In the event that they realize the child won’t turn into some bald-haired professor, does this fee ensure that the same child achieves their maximum potential elsewhere?
Is it part of this fee that funds printing costs of the letter that the school will write to the parent telling them that their child will achieve little else even if they did books for the next 50 years?
In the midst of all this, some parent somewhere hasn't garnered the guts to ask all this stuff. They are hustling for the 500K – in addition to the other fees – just so their child will go to school like the rest of his peers.
Somewhere in this city, in an unfortunate corner of one boiling bedroom that has been turned into a temporary war-zone, some guy has been declared "not man enough" because he hasn't raised enough money to cover the required school fees.
On one side of the bed, he sits, rather desolately. Arms folded and head bowed, he takes in barb after another. He secretly hopes that Xavier, his beer buddy eventually cracks that deal he’s been chasing so he can lend him the top-up or else his kid’s friends will also know that he is not man enough.
If the deal doesn’t materialize, he will coil himself on his side of the bed like a frightened schoolboy and stifle tears for the rest of the night.
The prospect of another barren day is so unnerving that little blood will flow to his South over the next couple of days. Which means no recreational action in the house until the financial graph goes up again.
A couple of months later, they'll be back for a two-week holiday and the cycle resumes. This will go on until the child is done with Education.
If you are lucky, this will mean graduation, probably with flying colors. If you are lucky enough, they'll even get a job. But if you are not, you could be having one of an upcoming artiste, a pastor or a vagabond (among others) on your hands.
Or they could turn out to be an entrepreneur – which (most likely) means a future motivational speaker. One who'll be telling school kids to focus and work very hard and persevere and not lose hope, and that things will turn out fine if they work hard.
Happy School fees week!