Saturday, 23 November 2019

GOVT NULLIFIES PRIVATE SCHOOL FEES HIKES


THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has ordered that all school fees increases by private schools for next year are null and void, as they have not been approved by the ministry.

The warning comes as a number of private schools have already sent circulars to parents indicating new hefty fees structures for next year, with some of the schools demanding that the fees be paid before the end of this year.

In an interview in Bulawayo on Friday, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry Mrs Tumisang Thabela said her office was yet to receive any application for fees review.

“We haven’t received their applications from what I know, because ordinarily what should happen is that they must follow the circular that guides them. The parent’s assembly should meet, deliberate and of course there is a need to take economic variables in to consideration.

“We are guided by what the parents say, if the attaching minutes and all the financial audited records indicate that they have utilised whatever they had and its justifiable to seek a rise, we accent.

“But where we don’t have, we do not authorise and currently I am not aware of that development from schools and particularly from the school in question.”

A survey in Bulawayo showed that fees for the first term in most private secondary schools have been pegged at between  $12 000 to $15 000. 

Part of the memo from one school read: “Following the SDC EGM on Monday 18 November 2019, the 2020 first term fees will be as follows: Form 1 to 4, $12 500, Form 5 to 6, $15 000.

“In view of the inflationary pressure in our economic environment, the initial fee of $3 600 must be paid up by Friday 29 November 2019 and the balance of $8 900 by Tuesday 31 December 2019.”

The school further indicated that, should parents fail to pay before the initial instalment on the indicated date, they must notify the school by 6 December so that their children can be withdrawn from the school.

Mrs Thabela said both Government and Trust schools should follow the correct channels in applying for school fees increases.

Earlier in the term several Government schools also sent proposals to parents for term one 2020 school fees structure and have proposed as much as ZW$600 up from a region of ZW$80.

A parent from a primary school in Bulawayo’s low density suburbs said they received notices of $560 as the proposed tuition for 2020 while Early Childhood Development (ECD) was pegged at $800.  

Other primary schools in the eastern suburbs in Bulawayo have also pegged their fees between $300 to $500 for the coming term.

The provincial education director for Bulawayo, Mrs Olicah Kaira, has said that Government schools were ready to absorb pressure that is likely to come from private schools owing to their increases in tuition fees.

She also encouraged schools and parents to assist by erecting extra classroom blocks to cater for the increases in volumes of pupils over time.

The Permanent Secretary, however, noted that schools were in need of more teachers for the coming year and beyond saying the 5 000 teachers that will be recruited in January 2020 were a fraction of what is needed.

“Zimbabwe needs 130 000 teachers to be at an optimum condition but we have been allowed to take 5 000 for 2020, the first batch of 2 700 will be taken in January while the remaining 2 300 will be taken in June 2020.

“We will rationalise this, we will look at every province and see how many teachers are needed and each gets an allocation depending on their needs,” she said. Sunday News

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