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Botswana reintroduces school fees

Botswana has announced the reintroduction of fees in its state secondary schools after more than 20 years of free education.

The measure will affect over 170,000 children aged between 13 and 18. The government says the move is part of a cost-cutting exercise because of falling revenues. While Botswana's Education Minister, Jacob Nkateand, described the new fees as "a pittance", opponents of the charges, including the Botswana Teachers' Union, say the fees will deter parents from sending their children to school. Pupils at Community Secondary Schools will pay 194 pula ($36) a year, while a year at a senior secondary school will cost 452 pula ($84). Families will be means tested and there will be some exemptions for the poorest. However, rising unemployment may mean that many will not be able to afford fees. Children of rural farmers with an irregular income will be the worst affected. Education International strongly disaproves of the reintroduction of school fees; the provision of free, quality, basic education is the responsibility of a government.