Sunday, 30 October 2016

WAR VETS KIDS SENT HOME

SCHOOLS have started sending home children of war veterans for non-payment of school fees despite assurances by the Government that the fees arrears would be settled.

The Government owes schools about $12 million in unpaid  fees for war veterans’ children dating back to 2013. Last week, a school in Matabeleland North Province, allegedly sent home about seven pupils whose fees accounts were in arrears.

Other schools in the Midlands province have reportedly written letters to owing parents threatening to hand them over to debt collectors if they fail to clear their arrears.
A war veteran whose child was sent home said he has had to sell three heifers to clear the debt and allow his child to continue with lessons.

“I was owing about $1 300 and I had no option but to look for means to raise the money to allow my child to return to school and continue with studies. I had to sell three heifers to raise the money and I hope that the Government will reimburse me,” he said on condition of anonymity.

However, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango said it was illegal for any school to turn away pupils for non-payment of school fees. She said parents whose children were affected can approach their nearest education ministry office to register their concern. Dr Utete-Masango said the Government policy was that schools engage owing parents rather than sending away children.

“That is a violation of our policies. Our policy is that schools engage owing parents not to send away students. If the reports are true then we would want the names of the particular schools so that we can investigate,” she said.

Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees Cde Tshinga Dube acknowledged the debt that his ministry owes to schools. Cde Dube said his ministry was awaiting funds from Treasury before it can pay off the debt and pleaded with schools not to send away owing war fighters’ children.

He said he was surprised by the schools that were sending away children, as his ministry had been given assurance by the education ministry that no owing war veteran children would be sent home. Sunday mail

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