July 12, 2017
Every year in Honduras, thousands of children drop out of school – many for economic reasons. When parents can’t afford to buy school uniforms, pencils, notebooks, or pay other school fees, it can end a child’s school career. For many, free, public education is simply too expensive.
Parents of students in one school in Honduras came to AJS to report that their school principal was demanding undue payments and fees from parents. Among other fees, school administration demanded about $20 per student to pay for school security, regardless of the students’ families’ economic status, and refused to deliver grades until the payment had been made. This $20 may not seem like a lot, but for a family living in extreme poverty, it could represent a week’s income, or the difference between children eating supper or going to bed hungry.
AJS attended a meeting where the school administration explained the extra fees to parents, and observed abusive and demeaning language. The administration also refused to share receipts for the expenses they claimed.
Immediately, AJS got involved through our Anti-Corruption Legal Assistance program, and informed the school that they were violating children’s right to free education, as well as misusing funds. AJS helped the parents file a formal complaint, and accompanied inspectors from the Ministry of Education as they investigated. The Ministry of Education found sufficient evidence to suspend both the principal and the vice-principal, and name new authorities for the school. The parents are content, not only that they are no longer being asked to pay unnecessary costs, but also that their voices were heard, and that they could make a positive difference in the lives of their children.