Mestry (2003:26) states that many school principals and school owners are placed under tremendous pressure to manage their school finances. They are unable to construct practical solutions to financial problems, mostly on account of their lack of financial knowledge, skills and expertise. In many instances it has been reported that school principals and owners have been subjected to forensic audits by the Department of Basic Education due to the mismanagement of funds through misappropriation, fraud, pilfering of cash, theft and improper control of financial records (Samayende & Arnstein, 2003:8; Khumalo & Mbanja, 2002:1; Khangale, 2002:13). This is a report from the South African education board.
Countries in Africa face the problem of effectively running a school. Perhaps one of the major issues they face is proper record keeping and accounting. Also, a lot of educators set up schools without getting adequate financial training and involving the right people on their school board who can offer credible financial advice.
It is important to note that educational services- whether private or public, cannot be delivered with high standards when there is poor management of funds and improper planning and budgeting.
One of the major challenges faced by schools -private schools especially, is in the area of getting adequate funding through school fees collection. It is always a herculean task faced by many school managers as they struggle to maintain enrollment at the same time.
This may be based on the following reasons:
- Economic instability of parents: Parents who lose their source of income as a result of recession may find it difficult to maintain regular payment of fees.
- The perception that education- primary and secondary should be free: This is pertinent in most African countries. Hence, school fees payment is usually relegated to the background when setting financial priorities in the home.
These and many more may be responsible for the low interest in prompt payment of fees. It is however, a major issue for a school owner when over 40% of parents do not promptly pay fees. This can affect the budget control and financial growth of the school. This leads to a major drawback and possible budget deficit including debts for a school and subsequently the closure of a school.
Tope Amujo (2022) developed an acronym S.A.F.E as steps to help schools gain control and success in school fees collection.
S- Systems: Standards and Policies
- Systems- School management focuses more on creating academic systems but mostly fail in creating working financial systems. It is important to involve account professionals to help you manage the processes of your school’s school fees collection. This system should be documented as a policy to be signed and adopted by all stakeholders in the school. Using a proper management systems software such as EDVES will also reduce the bottleneck of sifting through excess paper work that keeps financial records. Using a digital software such as Edves will give your school more room to ensure accountability of school fees collection processes.
- Affordability- Ensure that your school fees is quite affordable to your clients. Use data from previous sessions to track the rate of school fees payment per term to ascertain if your parents can actually afford your fees. Track your Marginal revenue to determine your economies of scale. What other streams of income can your school derive asides school fees so that your fees are made affordable and you can still deliver quality education? Can you take your classes outside the four walls of your classroom and make money teaching online? Remember, when parents know and see that your school offers a high quality education at a minimal cost, there are more chances that they will not joke with paying fees and enrollment will increase. Even if you maintain the current fees, ensure you give out more value to your clients. This will create a sense of loyalty that will in turn enhance school fees payment.
- Flexibility- Create payment schemes and payment schedules that are very flexible for parents. Think of partnering with credible financial bodies that can help you achieve this. Edves has partnered with KLUMP to help schools in making their school fees payment collection very flexible. Another strand of flexibility is giving out rewards in terms of percentage discounts to parents who pay before deadlines and who make bulk payment such as paying annual fees.
- Efficiency- Make your school fees collection easy to track and manage. Use the right technology such as Edves to help you track data concerning school fees collection.
Tying all these tips together will help you maintain enrollment, school- parent relationship and increase school fees payment flow. Remember that it is the right of every child to have access to quality education. Adopting technology to increase your income outside school fees collection reduces the strain of budget deficit experienced by many schools.
- R.Mestry (2018)- The role of governing bodies in the management of financial resources in South African no-fee public schools.
- MESTRY, R. 2004. Financial accountability, the principal or the school governing body. South African Journal of Education, 24(2):126-132.
- MESTRY, R. 2006. The functions of school governing bodies in managing school finances. South African Journal of Education, 26(1): 27-38.
- SAMAYENDE, S. & ARENSTEIN, J. 2003. Audit reveals widespread pundering of food schemes. City Press, 2 February 2003.
- AMUJO, T. (2022). SGA Webinar Series- Financial Management for Schools (August 2022 Edition)