Belinda Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government says it is going to institute disciplinary measures on school heads sanctioning the expulsion of pupils for not paying fees amid reports that a number of schools have recently been defying the Government directive with regards payment of fees.
It emerged last week that while some schools were sending pupils home those that did not do so resorted to punitive measures of sitting pupils who haven’t paid in a hall while others were in class.
In an interview with Sunday News, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Professor Paul Mavima said Government was going to be heavy handed in dealing with school heads who were defying the Government directive.
He said disciplinary action would be taken on schools that trample on Government policy with reckless abandon adding that the era of empty threats was long gone.
“Disciplinary action will be taken out on schools found paying no attention to the Government policy on excluding pupils from classes for school feels. As a ministry we are very concerned about schools that disregard the Government directive instructing schools not to send away pupils for not paying school fees.
“We have not yet received all the specific names of schools that are doing so. We therefore appeal to the public not to protect such schools but they should come forward and report because schools are aware of the Government policy. They are aware that nothing has changed because we did not communicate any changes. They are simply testing our patience,” he said.
In Bulawayo pupils from a number of schools were either sent home or out of classrooms as punishment for not paying school fees .
However, the policy, the minister said, does not mean that parents should no longer pay fees. He said schools should engage parents and work on payment plans towards their children’s school fees.
“Schools should engage parents and draw payment plans for their children’s school fees. Parents should take responsibility towards their children’s education and so if it means they should be taken to court for not paying school fees so be it, instead of excluded children from classes because of their parents’ faults,” said Prof Mavima.
Minister Mavima said the culture of defiance should stop, spelling out that the new Government was serious about ensuring adherence to laid down policies.
He said those that continue to dare the Government should be prepared to face the music and would have no one but themselves to blame.
He reiterated that the contract of paying fees was between the parent or guardian and the school authorities and not the child, adding that education was one of the rights that must be enjoyed by all Zimbabwean children regardless of one’s social status.