The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu/Munyaradzi Musiiwa/ Sindisiwe Sibanda, Sunday News Reporters
A NUMBER of boarding schools have tabled proposals to increase school fees and related levies to above $1 000 next term, creating fresh headaches for parents, some already struggling to pay amounts for this term.
The schools have over the weeks been holding Annual General Meetings where they have told parents that because of the prevailing economic situation which has seen prices of goods going up, parents should be prepared to pay the new fees next term.
Sunday News established that most of the schools, apart from notifying the parents, have also written to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education seeking approval for the new fees. A survey by Sunday News among some of the schools in the region revealed that the institutions would be charging plus or minus $1 000 for next term.
In Matabeleland South, Matopo High School has proposed that school fees will go up by more than 100 percent next term from $600 to $1 300. Another school, Mtshabezi High School has proposed $1 300 while Regina Mundi High School in the Midlands has proposed $1 400.
Sacred Heart Primary School in Esigodini has told parents to budget $1 000 for the second term up from $600.
Parents with children at John Tallach and Marist Brothers in Dete said they have been told that next term they will fork out $920 and $918 per term.
Another school, Eunor Guti Academy in Kingsdale Bulawayo has advised parents that they would pay $1 300 for their second term. Green Gables High School in the outskirts of Bulawayo said it will increase fees to $978 from $735. Empandeni Girls High School in Mangwe District has increased fees from $440 to $780 for the coming term. Other schools such as Tennyson Hlabangana which was charging $500 have written letters to parents for a meeting to discuss the new fees structure.
It has also emerged that some schools have in fact demanded that parents pay top up fees this term while new structures for next term are still being discussed. One such school is Magama Secondary School in Tsholotsho which is now demanding parents to pay an additional $150 for this term. The new development come as a blow to most parents whose incomes have remained stagnant despite the increase.
“If you look, most people who were sending children to these boarding schools are civil servants who are still earning just around $500 a month, how on earth are they going to afford these fees considering they also have other needs such as food and transport,” said a parent whose daughter is at Matopo High School.
Another parent said he has two children who are boarders and the only way out is to withdraw them from boarding.
“The best is to remove my girls from their school because I will need more than $3 500 to cater for their needs each term which is not feasible as we do not earn that much. The problem with most boarding schools is that they also do not accept part payments and I wonder how the parents will manage,” said another parent.
In an interview, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cde Edgar Moyo confirmed that a number of schools have written to the ministry seeking to adjust their fees for next term.
“I don’t have the total number of schools that applied for an increase off hand but the Permanent Secretary can furnish you with the figures. However, schools must provide parents with proof that the ministry has indeed approved the school fees increase for the coming term otherwise failure to do so will be illegal and unacceptable,” he said.
Deputy Minister Moyo said no parent should pay fees that have not been approved, saying the ministry does not turn down the need to increase fees but it should be done procedurally. Deputy Minister Moyo said there are fears that local day schools may be inundated with pupils who may transfer from boarding schools.
“Yes, there is that possibility that students will transfer and there will be pressure on day schools in the country but let us wait and see, if they do transfer we will map a way forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Government has warned schools that are also demanding foreign currency from candidates to register for the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) examinations. In an interview, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima said Zimsec does not charge examination fees in foreign currency and therefore no school including private colleges should demand foreign currency.
“Zimsec does not charge in foreign currency. The schools that charge in foreign currency are those writing Cambridge examinations. Zimsec itself is not charging US dollars so why would people be charged in foreign currency? This applies even to private schools writing Zimsec,” he said.
Prof Mavima said all candidates that are being charged examination fees in foreign currency should approach the ministry.
In one of the notices seen by this publication at one of the schools, the private college is demanding US$20.
However, after a few days the college changed to US$10 and RTGS$15 as examination fees for all science subjects. According to a parent who declined to be named, the school was not registering candidates who were intending to pay using RTGS dollars.
“The school first wanted US$20 for registering for any Science subject before changing to US$10 and RTGS$15. I have already paid the foreign currency that the school wants but I feel it’s not fair for the school to demand foreign currency,” said a disgruntled parent. Efforts to get a comment from the private college were futile.