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What to do when the school demands “voluntary contributions”

 

“Voluntary – compulsory” contributions have become the rule in many schools.  What is more the level of transparency in using voluntary contributions remains very low. More often than not parents don’t know whether their money is going. The purposes formally declared for collecting the money are far from always in line with the size of the amounts asked.  Reporting on how the money is spent is also at an extremely low level.

For example, some parents from Kyiv School No. 265 came to me with information about how the school administration was demanding that they pay monthly voluntary contributions of 50 UAH. This was in addition to another monthly voluntary contribution the size of which depended on the class the child was in and which could be 25 or 35 UAH.

Bearing in mind that according to the parents’ estimate, there are 517 students in the school, the amount is quite large. Much larger than needed, for example, for security.  There is no reporting on how they money is spent, at least not that the parents are aware of. Parents also see no result from the money they pay. This obviously angers parents and arouses suspicion that the money is not being spent on the stated aims.

I’m certain that this school is not an exception and that “voluntary – compulsory” contributions have become the rule in many schools. This is confirmed by the Ministry of Education and Science which in a letter from 15.04.2011 speaks of these cases, and also of parents’ contribution being spent other than as they’re supposed to be.

It should be noted that even the Ministry stated that the compulsory collection of money in educational establishments for various measures; the supplementation of charitable funds and use other than as intended of parents’ contributions constitute flagrant violations of the Law on Charity and charitable organizations which envisages the possibility only of voluntary donations and their strict accounting.

Yet despite all of this, “voluntary compulsory” collection of contributions for the school’s needs continues in Ukraine. The low level to which the public are informed of the effectiveness and transparency of how the funds are used forms a negative attitude among the public regarding financial irregularities and bribe-taking in educational establishments.

In my opinion the situation with the compulsory collection of funds and lack of transparency in using voluntary donations is unacceptable and demonstrates a reduction in personal responsibility by the management of academic establishments and weakening of control from local educational bodies over their activities.

In such a situation it is important for parents to demand from the school administration good grounds and transparency in spending voluntary contributions. Where such contributions are forced and there are certain adverse effects on the children or parents due not only to the payment of such fees, but to the lack of transparency in using them, they should approach the local educational bodies, the Ministry and the Prosecutor’s office regarding infringement by the school administration of Ukrainian legislation. 

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