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Private Colleges Crisis: Rs 1 Million+ Expense Claims Cut Off Shock



Private Colleges Crisis: Rs 1 Million+ Expense Claims Cut Off Shock
Image source: Le Mauricien

The Federation of Managers (FoM) of private colleges has convened an emergency meeting to review the situation following the implementation of the New Grant Formula 2024-2026.

The financial situation is dire, with the Private Secondary Education Authority (PSEA) rejecting several claims for expenses incurred by schools. In some cases, this amounted to a staggering Rs 1 million.

The meeting was marked by distress, frustration, and despair among the managers. Mike Phanjoo, the vice-president of FoM, described the situation as critical.

“The situation is worsening day by day. We are now also facing difficulties with building rentals. We need to mobilize and consult to find solutions,” he said.

Phanjoo urged for a return to the old Grant-in-aid system, emphasizing that FoM is not seeking personal gain.

“We are not asking for anyone’s head. It’s the entire system that needs to be reevaluated from top to bottom, because we can no longer operate under these conditions,” he added.

The decision was made to mobilize parents of the 80 private colleges to defend the interests of their children.

A national gathering may be held soon, although a date has not been set. The mobilization is also being organized in Rodrigues, where parents will meet to make their voices heard.

The situation was also presented to political leaders during meetings last week, including Paul Bérenger, leader of the Movement Mauricien Socialiste (MMS), and Xavier-Luc Duval, leader of the Parti Mauricien Social-Démocrate (PMSD).

The manner in which PSEA validated expenses was criticized, with managers complaining about the arbitrary checks and deductions.

According to a document submitted to political leaders, after schools incurred expenses from grants, they must submit returns with supporting evidence.

PSEA then checked the receipts and sent a circular letter with remarks such as “disallowed expenses,” “illegible receipts,” “receipts not complete,” etc.

The total sum of disallowed expenses represented a significant amount, which is deducted at the next disbursement. In some cases, this cut amounts to Rs 1 million.

For example, a manager who submitted his expenses for the first quarter of 2024 had Rs 60,000 disallowed.

This included expenses such as carpeting for a specialized room, sound system rental for Music Day, and plant purchases for the school’s courtyard.

The list of non-reimbursed items continues to grow, including installation of curtains in classrooms, repair of equipment such as computers and other digital tools, purchase of projectors, and building maintenance.

“Even the number of medals for the Sports Day is dictated by PSEA,” emphasized FoM.

The federation warned that if the situation continues, subsidized private colleges will disappear.

Such constraints is not allowing students to develop in optimal conditions. “We cannot even replace outdated equipment with modern ones,” regretted managers.

FoM has submitted three requests to political leaders, which may become government policy in the future: PSEA should stop deducting expenses; PSEA should establish a Consultative Committee as per the PSEA Act; and the next government should address inconsistencies in the partnership between the state and private colleges in free education.

FoM also criticized the arbitrary manner in which the Grant formula was revised in 2020.

Source: Le Mauricien

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