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Govt okays steep school fees hike

GOVERNMENT has approved a steep hike in school fees, which will see some pupils at boarding and urban day high schools forking out in excess of $55 000 up from $6 000 and $20 000 up from $3 000, respectively. BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA NewsDay Weekender has also heard that some schools are demanding payments in United States dollars for non-examination classes set to return to school on Monday. This comes amid complaints by parents and guardians that the fees were too high considering that the term was short and most teachers were on strike. Teachers’ unions described the increases as “daylight robbery” and insisted that their members would continue with their industrial action until government has addressed their demands for a pay hike. Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema yesterday confirmed the fees hike, adding that no parent had formally raised objections with his ministry. “No parent has complained to the ministry, every parent or guardian knows what needs to be done,” he said. Schools reopened for examination classes on September 28 following a six-month break triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The second batch of students comprising Grade 6 and Forms Three and Lower Sixth will report for lessons on Monday while the last batch is expected on November 9. Schools such as Catholic-run Gokomere and Silveira, Rusununguko and Prince Edward, among others, have reviewed their fees upwards with the latter now demanding $55 000 for boarders and $20 000 for day scholars. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said the fees were certainly beyond the reach of many parents, particularly civil servants. “Our position is that parents must stop paying fees until teachers and government find each other over teachers' welfare, health and safety. Sending kids to school when teachers are not teaching is a waste of time; the fees are certainly beyond the reach of many parents, particularly teachers,” Zhou said. Parents interviewed by NewsDay Weekender said school heads just presented them with figures ranging from $28 000 to $55 000 and asked them to vote. “The process was not clear, we were just told figures to choose from and those figures will be presented to the government as coming from the parents. We are still under COVID-19, where our incomes were affected. Where will we get that money?” a parent whose child is at Rusungunguko asked. A parent with children at Price Edward in Harare asked: “Where can we get the $50 000 demanded by the school?” Other schools like Roosevelt also announced fees ranging from between $33 000 and $40 000, depending on pupils’ subject combinations. Parents of day scholars paid about $3 000 at Prince Edward before COVID-19, while boarding students at Roosevelt paid about $6 200. Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said fees were effected in consultation with the parents. “The onus to justify the fees level lies with school responsible authorities in liaison with parents and guardians of concerned learners,” he said

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