Friday, 19 March 2021

MISSION SCHOOLS BAR EXAM PUPILS OVER FEES

SOME mission schools in Manicaland this week barred examination sitting pupils who had not paid their fees and levies in full from entering their premises, The Manica Post has established.

Most boarding schools in Rusape, Mutare, Nyanga, Chipinge and Buhera failed to recorded 100 percent turn-out as hundreds of pupils who had anticipated to be reunited with their peers and teachers were turned away for failing to pay fees and levies in full.

However, day schools in the province failed to bar pupils from attending school as officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education kept a close eye on their operations. Both pupils and teachers were in attendance, with lessons in full throttle.

The teachers, with the exception of those marking national examination papers, reported for duty, despite calls for strike by some unions. Lessons resumed on Monday for Grade Sevens, Form Fours and Sixes.

The learning institutions are ready to receive the rest of the classes which are expected to resume lessons on Monday.

A parent with a child at St Faith’s High, who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, decried the manner in which learners were treated by the school authorities on the first day of school.

All Anglican schools demanded full fees upfront. St Faith’s High School is charging $30 000, and the parent, a civil servant, had paid $26 000, anticipating to clear the balance after getting paid this week.

“They are demanding their fees in full without any room for negotiation. I had dispatched my child with a balance of $4 000, but they denied him entry at the gate. When my child called to inform me of the development, I was forced to borrow some money and rush to the school to clear the balance. When I got there I found several parents in the same predicament,” said the aggrieved parent.

Anglican Diocese of Manicaland education secretary, Mr Tendai Mandiringa, said barring pupils from entering their premises was a strategy to compel parents to pay fees on time. He said a great percentage of the parents had paid up as a result of the strategy.

“It is a way of encouraging parents to pay school fees timeously. We cannot encourage them to bring any amount because the fees are supposed to sustain these pupils at the boarding schools. Children at boarding schools need food and other essentials, hence parents must pay to enable our schools to meet the children’s needs,” said Mr Mandiringa.

“Those making noise had not paid anything. Those who had made partial payments were not turned away. About 10 percent of parents have not brought their children because of fees and we hope by the end of the week they would have paid up,” he added.

Mr Mandiringa said their schools across the province are open, adding that learning is in progress.

“In terms of learners’ attendance, we are over 90 percent and all teachers for exam classes are at work, with the exception of those marking last year’s exams. Preparations to receive the other batch of non-exam classes are at an advanced stage,” he said.

Mr Wallace Dhliwayo, a parent with a child at Gaza Primary School in Chipinge, castigated school authorities for demanding fees upfront. “The school is demanding fees upfront, but no lessons are being carried out. This is daylight robbery. Pupils are returning home, an indication that nothing is being done,” he said.

National Association for School Development Committees (NASDC) official, Mr Ranganai Mupakati said the reopening of schools is imperative for the education, social development and mental and physical welfare of children.

“Some day schools had not been offering online lessons and this affected our children,” said Mr Mupakati.

Last week President Mnangagwa assured the nation that Government has put in place adequate measures to ensure the safety of returning pupils and teachers.

Schools are following Covid-19 standard operating procedures thoroughly – with the pupils and teachers always having their face masks on and sanitising their hands frequently.

Temperature check are also conducted at the entry points. Only 35 students are allowed in a classroom – a measure that has forced most schools to resort to either hot seating or alternating the days for non-exam pupils to attend classes.

Pupils are not allowed to share desks and classrooms are being disinfected at regular intervals. Manica Post

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