Lycée accepts parents’ decry over hiked fees
To undergo major EUR 10 million renovation
Lycée Guébré-Mariam, a French community school, has been facing angry parents over its recent school fee price hike, until the school came up with certain adjustments that will impose a 20 percent added fee on those parents who can afford it, The Reporter has learnt.
Following reports of disagreements between parents and the school, Frederic Bontems, Ambassador of France to Ethiopia, explained the motive behind the increase in school fee on Ethiopians, who account for more than 7o percent of the student faculty.
According to the Ambassador, Lycée has sustained loses for the past four years due to the devaluation measures introduced by the government of Ethiopia in 2016 and ongoing inflationary pressures.
“Until 2016, we were doing well. However, the exchange rate and the inflation seriously affected us,” Bontems said.
Since then, the school operated under the ownership of the Mission Laïque Françoise or a French Secular Mission (MLF), a non-profit organization, which has been accruing loses as high as 25 million birr in 2016. However, with a 10 million birr loss this year, it has decided to adjust its prices.
The Ambassador claimed that the increased fees only represent the current 20 percent inflation. He also emphasized that much of the expenditure is made in euros, which only comes from 20 percent non-Ethiopian nationals and 10 present French students. For four years, 10 percent of the values of the school fees have been lost either to devaluation and inflation, Bontems said.
The remaining expenses of the school are covered by the Agency for French Education Abroad, or Agency for French Teaching Abroad, (Agence pour l'enseignement français à l'étranger; AEFE) – a national public agency under the administration of the Agency for French Education Abroad, and a public agency under the administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.
The 20 percent increment which has infuriated many parents now requires parents to pay some 118,000 birr, from the previous 94,000 birr in annual tuition fees. Annual fees for registrations for first time applicants have went up to 55,000 birr from 38,000 birr. In addition, every parent is required to pay an annual 3,800 birr plus the one-time 55,000 birr they must deposit.
Furthermore, parents were aggrieved that the school hiked its prices at a time of uncertainty which has kept children away from schools. However, Lycée has required that registration for the coming school year, to begin within the first two weeks of June; from June 1 to 5, and from June 7 to 12, 2020 for parents to re-enroll their children in school.
Forming a social media platform, a group of parents have been voicing their concerns. The Ambassador has made it known that on mutual understanding; the school has agreed to assist parents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to be exempted from paying the newly added fees.
Nonetheless, the Ambassador said Lycée still maintains to have one of the lowest fees compared to other international community schools such as, the Intentional Community School, the Sanford International School, the German School and the like. When compared to French schools in Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, according to Bontems, Lycée maintains to have the lowest fee for the same level of quality education.
In a related news, Lycee is planning to undergo major renovations with some EUR 10 million, as the old edifice has not seen such undertaking since its establishment some 70 years ago, the ambassador said.
Currently, the Addis Ababa City Administration is rolling out a road infrastructure expansion that impacts the premises of the school. Based on agreements, the city will provide a piece of land to help Lycée build a new parking lot that will also help minimize traffic congestion during drop-offs and pick-up hours.
Established in 1947 and with a renegotiated agreement entered between, the then President Charles de Gaulle and Emperor Haile Selassie I, Lycée Guébré-Mariam has cultivated prominent individuals such as President Sahle Work Zewde, among many others.