Tuesday 7 September 2021


Schools that hiked fees or levies without consulting parents or getting the approval from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must revert to the old fee structures and give allowance for payment plans, Government said yesterday.

It has been the law for many years now that all schools, public and private, have to go through a process of calling a parents meeting and gaining a majority vote of those who attend before increasing a fee or levy and then submit their application, with the minutes of the meeting and the budget to the Ministry.

Because the present term is so long, 80 days for examination classes and 75 days for the rest instead of the normal 60 days, the Ministry has already authorised schools to scale up fees and levies in proportion to the extra number of days.

For examination forms this would be a 33 percent rise. Besides the restatement of the legal position on fees and the appeal to allow payment plans, the Government has also ordered all boarding schools to activate and equip a temporary holding room or sick bay to manage any suspected case of Covid-19.

Face-to-face lessons for non-exam classes resumed yesterday, a week after exam classes on August 30.  The second term was supposed to have started on June 28, but was delayed by the third wave of Covid 19 infections.

Primary and Secondary Education director of communications and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro said it was important for learners to have uninterrupted lesson time this term.

“The term started well and we have not faced any major challenges except for reports of schools that have hiked fees without parents’ consent or approval from the Ministry. It is policy that before schools hike fees, they should meet with parents and agree on a figure which is then approved by the Ministry. That policy should be upheld so we have advised schools to revert back to the old fee structure until this has been done,” he said.

“Those schools that are turning away learners for non-payment of full fees are also encouraged to stop that action. It would be unfair on the learner because they have already lost too much time so they should be allowed to carry on with lessons while the school engages the parents to make payment plans. We need as much time as we can get to catch up.”

Mr Ndoro said although sick bays had always been available in schools, this time the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was working closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure they were equipped to manage Covid-19 cases.

Following the resumption of classes for exam classes last week, Kriste Mambo High School in Manicaland recorded nine positive cases, prompting authorities to demand Covid-free certificates for the rest of the pupils.

Mr Ndoro said the cases at the school had been managed by Health Ministry officials and the situation was under control.

A survey of some schools yesterday morning showed that most schools had resumed classes for non exam classes without any major challenges.

Authorities at Harare High, Prince Edward High and Mbare High said all learners and teachers were observing Covid-19 protocols, including wearing of face masks, social distance and washing of hands.


However, mask wearing remained a challenge as some were removing them as soon as they left the school yards.

High Achievers Coach International Academy director of studies Dr Tapera Chikandiwa said the resumption of classes had been smooth with the majority of learners turning up for the first day.

“This is not the first time we are opening schools after a lockdown. We experienced this last year and we have set standard operating procedures which we are following. Our teachers have also been vaccinated. The parents are happy with the set up we have here.

“Although we have a few absentees the rest of the learners are in class and we are following up on those that did not come,” he said.

In Bulawayo, transport was a major challenge for learners as they struggled to get Zupco buses and kombis to ferry them to school.

Some mushikashikas took advantage of the shortage of transport to charge desperate commuters exorbitant fares.

In Mashonaland West all schools opened on a high note with over 80 percent of pupils in attendance.

A survey of some schools in Makonde and Zvimba districts by The Herald showed that compliance to Covid-19 regulations was high, with primary pupils putting on face masks and exercising social distancing.

There were no reports of pupils being turned away for non-payment of fees at Government schools although private institutions including Eureka in Banket demanded payment of fees in full.

Zvimba District schools inspector, Mr Andrew Matsikiti, said all schools opened and statistics given by sampling five schools, show good attendance by both teachers and students.

“Of the expected 79 teachers, 71 were present, thus 89,87 percent. Of the 382 expected learners 306 attended, thus 80 percent,” he said.

He added that the attendance was excellent given that this is the first day of the term after a long hiatus due to Covid-19.

In Masvingo the first day of schooling by all classes kicked off without major glitches with pupils in both primary and secondary school subjected to very strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations before entering school premises.

Long queues formed outside main entrances to some of the schools as pupils underwent temperature checks and sanitising before proceeding to their classes with their face masks.

Parents hailed measures put in place to ensure safety of learners.

A visit to schools such as Victoria High and Junior schools, Masvingo Christian and Ndarama High School yesterday morning showed pupils being vetted to ensure they complied with Covid-19 regulations.

In Kariba, schools opened with authorities complying with strict Covid-19 guidelines as learners were sanitised and had their temperatures  checked. Attendance in some schools was low as parents made final arrangements for their children’s return to school.

Some parents interviewed said they would use the rest of the week to finalise preparations for their children to return and catch up with their peers. Herald


Post a Comment