Government on high alert to prevent illegal school fees hikes

Taungana Ndoro Education Department Spokesman


THE Ministry of Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has said it is on high alert, closely monitoring Government schools that will defy laid down guidelines on school fees increases.

Schools are set to reopen tomorrow for the second term, with the Government revealing that a number of measures had been put in place to ensure their smooth opening. In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro warned schools against the illegal increasing of school fees.

“We will be on high alert, closely monitoring those schools that would have illegally hiked school fees. Any fees hike outside the stipulated regulations, which include parents’ consent and approval by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, is illegal. Schools should follow the ministry’s policies and regulations,” said Mr Ndoro.

Furthermore, parents and guardians with children at private schools have cried foul over the pegging of fees in black market foreign currency exchange rates.

“Private schools do as they wish. The fees are pegged in speculative foreign currency black market rates and the attitude is ‘take it or leave it’. Its second term and surely you can not withdraw your child from the school. Those in private schools are suffering silently unlike those in Government or church-run schools where Government can easily intervene. The fees are pegged in local currency, but if you ask to pay in US dollars you then realise that the figures in local currency were arrived at using a speculative black market rate, which is higher than the one being used in the streets,” said a parent with children in one of Bulawayo’s private schools.

Meanwhile, in a post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said a number of measures were being done as part of the preparations.

“Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is ready for the task of ensuring the smooth opening of schools. Surveillance is being conducted in order to ensure that all health issues pertaining to schools and the safety of learners are attended to as part of the preparations. The nation is being informed that the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) June 2023 examinations are scheduled to start in mid-May, and security around examination papers is being tightened.”

The minister said the mop-up registration exercise for the examinations was scheduled to take place from 8 to 12 May and all stakeholders were being assured that no penalties will be imposed on candidates for registering during this extended phase.

Meanwhile, it was a hive of activity yesterday as parents and guardians were doing last-minute preparations ahead of schools reopening tomorrow. Despite the prices of school uniforms slightly going up, most parents and guardians said they had no option as children needed winter wear. Winter wear comprises slacks, trousers, long-sleeved shirts, tracksuits, jerseys, blazers, long socks and woollen hats.

A snap survey conducted by Sunday News yesterday, showed that at some retailers, slacks, and long-sleeved shirts prices were ranging between US$10 and US$14, light jerseys between US$10 and US$15 while heavy jerseys were priced as high as US$20. Tracksuits were ranging between US$20 and US$25, blazers between US$15 and US$30, woollen hats were going for US$5 and long socks between US$1 and US$5. The retailers were using the black market rate of US$1: $2 000.

Street vendors had their prices a bit lower compared to the retail outlets with disparities of about US$1 to US$5.

A mother of two girls, Mrs Lydia Moyo said she was surprised why the prices had gone up in foreign currency.

“Had they gone up in local currency it would have been understandable as the exchange rate continues to go up, but these shops have also hiked prices in foreign currency. We have no option but to buy as first term and second term uniforms differ because of the seasons,” said Mrs Moyo.

Source – The Sunday News

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