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Parents protest tuition hike

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A group of parents gather outside Paragon International School to protest increased tuition fees. Hong Menea

Parents protest tuition hike

About 50 parents on Monday protested again in front of the Paragon International School to demand discounts for online tutoring and claiming that during the Covid-19 crisis the private school raised tuition fees.

They presented a petition signed by more than 180 families.

Keng Narun, a parent of two students, said they are demanding the school agree to four conditions – keep the same tuition fees and scrap the eight per cent increase, extend the enrollment period which is set to close by the end of April, agree to a requested 30 per cent discount for online study during the Covid-19 outbreak, and improve the quality of education.

“We are faced with the Covid-19 crisis and an economic crisis, but the school management is raising tuition fees. Parents are dissatisfied and that’s why they request that the school keep to the same fees,” he said.

The school has asked parents facing financial problems to apply for a discount and attach along supporting documentation for the school to review.

The Post could not reach the school for comment on Monday as security guards barred entry to its premises.

However, Eang Sophalleth, the school’s honorary chairman told The Post by phone that it had said clearly in its announcements that it would reduce costs for students whose parents suffered financially.

“Please come to the school to resolve [the issue] and there’s no problem. If they need help, we will help,” he said.

The Cambodian Higher Education Association (CHEA) recently issued a call for parents to apply for discounts at schools and not protest at their premises to avoid Covid-19 contamination.

At the same time, CHEA said, private institutions are also struggling and continuing to pay staff salaries, building costs, interest and principle on bank loans and other expenses while witnessing a drop in revenue due to declining student populations.

Ly Sovath, who has three children in grades 5, 7 and 8 at the school, confirmed that the requirement for students to learn online from home requires parents to spend more time with their kids, which affects their time to go out and earn money.

“For us, the business people are suffering from the outbreak of Covid-19 and there is no time to go out for business as we need to look after the children who have to study from home.

“When learning online, we have to stand and watch our children. If the school does not accept the demand, we will only decide to change to a school that we think we can afford,” he said.

The tuition fees for the school year 2020-2021 at Paragon show that the international programme for children just learning to walk is around $3,000, and from grades 7 to 9 it costs $8,950 and from grade 10 to grade 12 it is $9,420.

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