However, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora yesterday afternoon urged parents to make use of plastic money to pay fees. While most banks had long queues since Thursday as parents were trying to withdraw money, banks have also reduced withdrawal limits to $100 per day as the cash crisis continues.
In separate interviews, parents with children at boarding schools said they were afraid that their children would not be able to travel to their respective schools tomorrow and if they travelled they would not have paid the full amounts. A majority of Government and missionary schools with boarding facilities charge between $420 and $470 per term.
Ms Samatha Bhebhe who was queuing at a bank to get money for her Form Four son at Umzingwane High School said although she understood the issue of plastic money children in boarding schools also needed cash to take care of their needs and in cases of emergency.
“I have been reading about the use of plastic money but the reality is that these children which we are sending to boarding schools will need cash to buy a few goods while at school. In case of emergency, will they use plastic money to board buses returning home?”
Another parent, Mr Isaac Moyo said he does not support the use of plastic money because he will want to properly budget his cash while at hand. He however, said due to the cash crisis, he has been persuaded to adopt plastic money.
“Plastic money is foreign to me and to many people I have interacted with. I want to take my money and keep it in my wallet so that I can properly budget it, not this tendency where the card will keep me guessing. My eldest daughter has actually advised me to follow suit and I will try to do so,” he said.
However, in an interview, Minister Dokora said the shortage of money should not affect the opening of the schools as parents should use plastic money.
“Parents should use bank transfers which are easier and are the modern way of doing business. We are in an era where plastic money is the practice. I wonder what they are queuing for because with RTGS (Real-Time Gross Settlement systems) they don’t have to queue, they just do their paper work and leave their forms at the bank where they will finish up the process. More so, with cash transfers there are no transfer limits unlike withdrawal where they will risk taking many days trying to get cash,” said Dr Dokora.
Cash problems come at time where teachers were the last civil servants to receive their salaries last Friday. The rest of the civil servants will be paid on 5 September while pensioners will receive their payments on 9 September. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya said people should change their mindset and embrace plastic money to perform any transactions.
“It really amazes me why people would queue in banks when they can use plastic money to pay fees and to buy groceries. The problem is that people now have a culture of wanting to feel their hard cash,” said Dr Mangudya.
“Parents can use money transfers instead of going to long queues to withdraw cash and then queue again to pay fees, they can just transfer the school fees to the school account. Parents can also use plastic money to buy groceries, people should adjust to the new technology and stop complaining that the country does not have cash while they are the ones who are making their lives hard and complicated.”
He added that people may now use mobile banking and even online banking in the comfort of their homes instead of going to banks. Some headmasters also urged parents to use bank transfers in paying schools fees because the transfers are easy to administer.
George Silundika High School head Mr Banda Ncube said the school was encouraging all parents to use RTGS when paying school fees. He said the majority of pupils at his school were paying their fees through RTGS which the school highly recommends for ease of doing business. Mr Ncube added that cash transfer was also safe.
Gloag High School head Mr Gamulude Ncube said a number of parents were already using RTGS to pay school fees.
“There is no room for parents to be complaining that they cannot withdraw money from the bank to pay school fees because RTGS is open for them to use it,” he said.
Zimbabwe Schools Development Association and Committees (ZSDA/C) president, Mr Xolisani Dlamini said it was a noble idea for parents to use plastic money because companies were no longer transacting in cash.
“We highly support the idea that parents should use bank transfers in paying schools fees. Hard cash is in short supply hence the viable option is to use plastic money which schools also use when purchasing goods,” said Mr Dlamini.
Meanwhile, Gloag High school has introduced a $20 water levy where all pupils are expected to pay the money before the schools open. Mr Ncube confirmed the development adding that the school has been facing water challenges.
“The water from the borehole hardly reaches the dormitories, we have a serious problem and that is why the School Development Commit (SDC) came up with the issue of the water levy,” he said.
Another boarding school in Umguza District, John Tallach High School has banned pupils from coming with tissue paper, with school authorities arguing that this was a way of curbing litter at the school. The school has said instead parents must buy their children handkerchiefs.
Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director Mrs Boithatelo Mguni confirmed the development saying the school will now be providing tissues for their pupils.
“Yes, it was approved that pupils should now bring two handkerchiefs and they must not get into the dining hall with tissue papers since after dining they will be throwing the tissues outside the dining hall and it becomes litter,” said Mrs Mguni.
Tissues become the latest banned commodities after the school banned groceries in 2009.
Meanwhile, following the ban on Form One entrance tests, schools will start online enrolment for the classes using Grade Seven results soon, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora has said.
The ministry will monitor schools enrolments via an Education Management Information System to ensure that school administrators adhere to the policy. Government directed schools to enrol Form One students using the Grade Seven results as a way of combating corruption by some unscrupulous school administrators who were charging exorbitant entrance fees.
Dr Dokora said the system of writing entrance tests was haphazard and some school authorities were milking desperate parents.
“Why would a parent travel to, say Kutama, yet he or she can still find a place for his or her child online? We have put mechanisms in place to ensure that our system is efficient and there will be no more travels or entrance tests; those were not being marked anyway. Most of these schools were inviting thousands of pupils for entrance tests yet they only need less than 100, so this system had become a conduit for corruption,” he said. sunday news
WITH schools opening on Tuesday a majority of parents are feeling the heat of cash shortages that has disrupted their preparations for the new school term as yesterday hundreds of them were stuck in long queues at banks trying to make last minute withdrawals to pay fees and meet other obligations.