Saturday, 13 March 2021

WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN : GOVT WARNS SCHOOLS OVER FEES

THE Government has threatened to close schools that will bar pupils from attending classes over the issue of fees as it has emerged that most learning institutions are also demanding fees payment in foreign currency.

Schools open tomorrow for the first year for examination classes and the rest of the classes will open on 22 March.

However, parents have been scratching their heads over high demands from schools some that are pegged in foreign currency.

It has also been noted that some schools even if they allow parents to pay using local currency, are using rates higher than the official rates. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema told Sunday News yesterday that any school that will bar a pupil over the issue of fees risk being closed. He said the ministry was also concerned over the issue of fees as schools know the procedures that must be followed in coming up with the fees and levy structures.

“These schools are fully aware of the procedures to be followed when they want to increase fees, they know the consequences if they decide to increase without the consent of the Permanent Secretary in the ministry. What we are saying is that authorities should not be allowed to benefit from nothing.

It is also illegal for schools to then bar pupils from school owing to non-payment of fees, school heads know all this and they know that the ministry has the power to close them if they ignore these directives,” said Minister Mathema.

However, a survey by Sunday News has revealed that most boarding schools are pegging their fees in foreign currency, with authorities saying pupils will not be allowed within the school premises if they do not show proof of payment.

According to a circular from Embakwe Mission school in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, the school head, a Mr M Ndlovu, said Forms One to Three boarders are expected to pay US$325, Form Four boarders; US$345, Upper Six boarders (without practicals); US$365 while Upper Six students with practicals are expected to pay US$380.

“Payments may be made in local currency, Rand or United States Dollars to the given bank accounts. The bank will give the rating of the day.

Proof of fees payment is to be produced on boarding the bus. It is our hope that the fees charged will cover the term’s expenses at the same time helping the school to settle fixed charges of the past year like ancillary staff salaries, insurance, Nssa, Zesa and Zinwa,” reads the circular.

Other schools such as Mzingwane High School is demanding $21 000, John Tallach Secondary School $30 000 while Thornhill High School in Gweru is charging $30 000. Speaking on the preparedness of schools to open Minister Mathema said all was in place, revealing that officials from the ministry have been going around the provinces to assess the preparedness well before Cabinet announced the school calendar.

“Remember that we already have the Standard Operation Procedures which school heads have been implementing since last year, therefore I can safely say that come Monday its all systems go, we are ready.

“As a ministry we have done our best in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment to the schools but also our schools have become industries where they are producing masks and sanitisers but parents and guardians must play their part by also ensuring their children always mask up as we fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Last week, on Thursday, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Tumisang Thabela, reiterated the ministry’s policy on school fees noting that school authorities should be guided by the set down ministry procedures on the collection of school fees. According to the new calendar the first term will end on 4 June, the second term will begin on 28 June ending on 10 September 10 while the third term will start on 4 October ending on 17 December. Sunday News

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