Saturday, 12 September 2020

GOVT TO CRACK DOWN ON EXTORTIONATE PRIVATE SCHOOL FEES


THE Government will soon penalise schools that are charging parents “extortionate fees” in local currency while demanding lower foreign currency amounts that do not correspond with the country’s Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) auction rate.

Schools in the country are preparing for reopening, with Cambridge exam classes expected to begin tomorrow while Zimsec examination classes will reopen on 28 September. Schools were closed late in March ahead of the initial 21-day national lockdown, but reopened briefly for June examinations.

The Government’s warning comes amid revelations that some private schools are charging parents twice as much at the auction rate what they levy in foreign currency, as they try to force parents into paying their children’s fees in forex. According to last week’s auction, the Zimbabwe dollar is trading at $82,69 per US$1.

At Christian Brothers College (CBC) in Bulawayo, parents are expected to pay either US$800 in cash or the equivalent of US$1 000 at the bank auction rate. Parents have an option of paying in monthly instalments, with the first one totalling US$300 then US$250 for three months using the bank auction rate for the next three months. 

At Petra College Senior, parents are expected to fork out US$775 in cash or the equivalent of US$1 400 at the RBZ auction rate. At Petra Junior, parents will pay US$500 in cash or the equivalent of US$900. Parents with children in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) will either pay US$450 in cash or the equivalent of US$800 at the auction bank rate.

“The fee is not for a term but for the remainder of the year, which is five months and is to maintain service and includes a return to school if that is possible,” the school said in a notice to parents.

Masiyephambili Primary School has pegged its fees at US$500 or $41 500, with the school listing its major cost drivers as staff salaries, Covid-19 PPE and data for E-learning.

George Silundika High School in Nyamandlovu has set its fees at $27 000, although the school noted that the figure awaits the approval of the Provincial Education Director. Additionally, Form Four and Upper Sixth pupils are also expected to pay $4 960 and $5 760 respectively. 

O-level students at David Livingstone in Ntabazinduna are expected to pay US$300 or the local currency equivalent while “A” Level students will fork out US$350. A science levy of US$10 in addition to transport costs of US$2 will also be charged.

At Coghlan Primary School in Bulawayo, parents will pay $528.

Speaking to Sunday News yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Cde Edgar Moyo said schools that were inflating their fees in local currency will be sanctioned.

“The first things that we should note is that as a country we have currency laws that govern how we should operate in all spheres of life. As a ministry we don’t expect schools to set their own rate which is contrary to what has been set by the Reserve Bank. That would be breaking the law and if there are schools that are doing that then parents should come forward and report those schools to the relevant monetary and law enforcement authorities,” Deputy Minister Moyo said.

Deputy Minister Moyo said although the operations of private schools were not under the direct control of the ministry, they were still liable for penalties if they broke the country’s laws. Deputy Minister Moyo said by creating their own rate, schools were indulging currency distortions that could lead the country on the path to economic chaos. Sunday Mail

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