BOARDING schools have been given the green light to bar pupils from entering their premises if they have not paid boarding fees to enable the learning institutions to run their day-to-day operations which include the upkeep of the pupils, a Cabinet Minister has said. The revelations were made by Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora while addressing the just-ended 35th Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) Annual Conference in Victoria Falls. Schools open for the second term on Tuesday.
Dr Dokora said while the policy still stood regarding the exclusion of day scholars for non-payment of fees it was now a different case regarding boarders who he said had to pay their boarding fees without fail.
“Only boarding schools are mandated to exclude their pupils from school if they do not pay their boarding fees. This noting the fact that these boarding schools require the money for their day to day operations therefore you cannot expect a pupil to survive using other pupils’ fees.
“As for day scholars I must emphasise that please do not touch them. Do not even think of chasing them away because it is very illegal. Instead of chasing the pupils away the school should find other means of recovering what they are owed, some have been innovative with success like even taking the parents to the chiefs’ courts or anything else besides chasing them away,” said Dr Dokora.
He revealed that the policy on the non-exclusion of day scholars had seen an increase in the number of pupils who are attending school. The minister said it was a deliberate policy that was aimed at accomplishing education as a basic human right.
“Over the past 10 years we had experienced an unfortunate slump in the number of school-going children but over the past couple of years we have had a sharp increase with 1 026 000 school-going children in the country.
“We expect this figure to continue increasing as we come up with more of these policies so that we ensure basic policy of education for all, which is a mandate for us as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education,” said Dr Dokora.
Meanwhile, the minister revealed that the school feeding scheme was set to begin on Tuesday with the Government targeting mainly schools in districts which are hard hit by drought. He said while the Government wished the feeding programme could be implemented throughout the country, it was unfortunate that they did not have resources to fulfil this.
“What we are using now is the Civil Service Commission allocation but we know that will fall slightly short because a lot of districts have been hard hit by this drought situation. However, we will do all our best as this will go a long way in ensuring that more children attend school and avoid the situation where we record a reduced figure because of drought.
“As a ministry we have also decided that the feeding scheme will now be a permanent feature, we won’t wait for any drought but we want to put it in place so all our children are adequately supported,” said Dr Dokora.
Dr Dokora commended efforts that teachers were making despite the challenges they are facing.
“I know the teachers have been facing all sorts of problems in the country but you have all continued to be dedicated to the sector and that should really be commended, as a ministry we will continue doing our all in terms of supporting the teachers where we can,” he said.
In an interview with Sunday News after the close of the conference yesterday, Zimta chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, however, dismissed Minister Dokora’s sentiments regarding his dedication to the teaching profession.
“He has continued to fail to answer the questions posed to him. All he does is attempt to patronise teachers hence as an association one of the main resolutions is to engage the minister to make it clear what our demands are because honestly the minister is taking us for granted. The minister talks of quality education and the only way to achieve this is by addressing the bread and butter issues of the teacher,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said there was a need for a more serious approach on the part of Government in terms of uplifting teachers if the education sector was to be further developed.
“The minister talks of the Teaching Professionals Council as if it is his baby, he forgets that as Zimta we started talking about it as far back as 2009. He is busy telling people that we are delaying its implementation but the actual truth is that it his ministry which is delaying all this,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The annual conference was held under the theme; equitable quality education, a public human right good, for sustainable societies. sunday news