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Schools complain over exam fees collection

by Staff reporter
17 May 2022 at 06:33hrs | Views
SCHOOLS are left financially poorer every time they collect examination fees on behalf of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) through bank and transport costs charges and have appealed to the parastatal to meet the costs.

A number of school heads interviewed by Chronicle said it is always a nightmare to collect examination fees with rural-based schools raising fears of being raided by thieves as they keep the cash in unsafe offices while waiting to take the money to the bank.

Transport costs are met by the school with no refunds from the examination body.

"It's just unfair, those bank charges can be so huge which eventually sees us failing to fulfil some school projects. It could be better if those charges could be taken from the Zimsec money but that is not the case. Zimsec receives all of its money while as schools we are left to bear the costs," said a school head. The same sentiments were echoed by other school heads who said the situation was unbearable for them.

National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash) president Arthur Maphosa said schools were being forced to incur what he said were uncalled for expenses.

"We have always complained as Nash structures on this issue where we collect money on behalf of Zimsec. Risks are also very high, especially for rural-based schools that might not be having swipe machines but have to carry cash, use public transport to get to town and deposit the money using school funds. You can also be raided at the school," said Mr Maphosa.

"Schools also incur a lot of expenses in bank charges. We have had schools paying as much as $100 000 in bank charges, money that would have been used for some projects at the school. Zimsec gets its money intact but schools are left poorer.  Something really needs to be done on that. These expenses are also passed on to the poor parents because schools get forced to review their fees in order to keep operating," said Mr Maphosa.

Zimsec spokesperson Ms Nicky Dlamini acknowledged the challenges faced by schools and said there is a need for a round table discussion on the matter so that a solution is reached.

She said while it may be possible to provide point of sale machines, there were some administrative challenges that may arise, considering the number of examination centres in the country. She said schools also need to formally raise the matter.

"I would urge schools to raise their grievances formally. This issue needs a round table discussion so that both parties are satisfied.

Swipe machines are possible, yes but again, relevant authorities need to be engaged because we have many examination centres throughout the country. For Grade Seven examinations, for example, we have over 5 000 centres which means swipe machines of the same number but the solution could be a round table discussion," said Ms Dlamini.

Zimsec is a parastatal in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. It came through an Act of Parliament in 1994 (Zimsec ACT).

Cabinet reached a decision to localis Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations in 1983 with the training of first markers being done the following year in 1984.

The first localis O-level examination was written in 1990 and in 1994 the Zimsec Act was enacted. Completion of the localisation of the Ordinary Level examination was done in 1995, the same year that the Zimsec board was appointed. The first A-level examination was written in 2002.

Meanwhile, Ms Dlamini said contrary to messages circulating on social media, Zimsec has not yet announced the 2022 examination fees.

Source - The Chronicle
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