The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has warned schools against inflating prices of their requirements to justify an upward review of school fees saying it is employing all due diligence in scruitinising the budgets mindful of the need for education to remain accessible to all, while retaining its quality.
This comes in the wake of schools having sent applications for upward review of tuition fees for January 2024.
A number of schools’ budgets have however, been turned down because of the degree of exorbitance and inflation of prices of basic needs such as foodstuff with a certain school budget quoting a crate of eggs at US$10.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Moses Mhike said it was worrying to note that schools were inflating prices of basic requirements to justify fees hike.
He said the ministry was scruitinising item by item and had turned down fees increase for a number of schools on grounds that they were inflating prices of goods needed by the school.
“We have already started approving fees for schools, both day and boarding. We always stand guided by the fundamentals in the economy.
“We look at the levels of inflation and we also look at issues of general incomes that our parents earn across the board, those are some of the issues we look at.
“There are certain levels of school fees that we have said no to. I will give you an example where we went through a certain budget of a certain school where they had a line item where they wanted to purchase eggs where it was recorded that a crate costs US$10. If you then do not diligently go through those line items, those are things that can then be easily smuggled in,” said Mr Mhike.
Mr Mhike said profiteering by schools will not be tolerated and the ministry was going to reject applications from schools that were not considerate of the Government’s aim of making education accessible.
He expressed concern over parents who do not take into consideration the interests of other less fortunate parents to impose exorbitant fees increase proposals and called on parents and guardians to ensure they are actively involved in the budget making process.
“We have also been very clear to schools to say we would also want to have enrolments very clearly outlined and we have also said they should follow the procedure of engaging parents and let parents agree on the proposed fee structures through an annual general meeting.
“Even as the Permanent Secretary, if parents agree to say we would want to raise our fees from US$300 to US$700, I am entitled to say no. As long as we satisfy ourselves that the school can be able to run with whatever we will have approved through our committee then we can be able to do that,” he added.
Mr Mhike said the greatest consideration that the ministry puts was affordability for the parents.
“We cannot also be compromising the education system in terms of its quality,” he stressed.
Turning to issues of Form One enrolment, the permanent secretary said the Government was running short of boarding space for learners.
“We issued a circular last month where we were very clear that all placements for boarding schools were being done through email. We hope the parents have also started playing their part in terms of selecting the schools they want. If you remember we issued a statement saying we still have a problem with our boarding places. We have boarding places amounting to 25 000 while almost 400 000 (learners) wrote Grade Seven examinations, it means as a ministry we have a long way to go in terms of infrastructure development, especially in our boarding schools,” he added.–@NyembeziMu