Tuesday, 11 June 2019

BOARDING SCHOOLS DEMAND TOP UP FEES


SOME boarding schools are demanding top up fees for this term as they seek to cushion themselves against escalating prices of goods and services.

The schools say they were left with no other option after prices of basic commodities increased beyond what they had budgeted.

The development comes at a time when parents are struggling to pay fees with some schools resorting to payment plans.

Some parents were forced to withdraw their children from boarding schools as it became impossible for them to pay the exorbitant fees and buy uniforms, whose cost is also beyond the reach of many.

Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo, however, said schools were not allowed to charge top up fees unless they have been given the green light by the Ministry.

He said the reason why schools were running out of food was due to poor planning.

“Schools have not been given the leeway to increase fees without approval from the Government. If a school’s proposal to increase fees or charge top up has not been approved then the fees structure remains the same. 

“When the proposal comes from the school, it has to be a joint proposal by the school authorities and the parents. These top ups being demanded by schools are a sign of poor planning. Schools must plan ahead to avoid burdening parents,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.

Parents yesterday told Chronicle that while they understand the plight of schools, it was not easy for them to raise the money required.

“It’s not easy because some of us are still struggling to clear the fees and we have other children back home who need to be fed and go to school,” said Mrs Rosemary Mhlanga from Pumula.

Another parent, Mr Edwin Ndebele from North End said parents were now being forced into debts to cover the costs of fees and school uniforms.

“This situation is forcing us into debt and it’s not healthy at all. Education is a basic human right and as parents we can’t deny our children access to school but the situation has become unbearable. I hope the Government finds a solution soon,” said Mr Ndebele.

An official at one of the schools that is demanding more money from parents said the economic situation had forced them to call an emergency meeting with parents to map the way forward.
  
“When parents paid schools fees, which was RTGS$1 200 at the beginning of the term, we thought the money would be enough to buy all the necessary food and pay for all the services for the term.

“Due to the continuous escalation of prices, we realised that the money won’t take us through the rest of the term. We therefore called for a meeting to discuss with parents and we agreed to top us with RTGS$300,” said the official who declined to be named.

Last term, some schools requested that parents start to pay part of the fees in the form of groceries which included mealie-meal, cooking oil, sugar, macaroni, sugar beans, rice and detergents. Chronicle

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