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Zimbabwe's form 1 fees shocker

by Staff reporter
07 Dec 2022 at 05:08hrs | Views
ZIMBABWEANS should brace for a steep rise in school fees next year after schools released enrolment fees for Form 1 places ranging at up to US$1 500 at some private schools.

This comes after the release of Grade 7 results last week, and parents are now looking for Form 1 places for their children.

Some schools have set Friday this week as the deadline for parents to pay enrolment fees.

Last month, Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro told State media that government will not block schools from charging exclusively in foreign currency if the majority of parents agree on the decision.

Ndoro also said parents who were apposed to foreign currency fees should take their children to other schools.

"If parents have a consensus we cannot stop them, if they agree as a majority that they want to pay for their children in foreign currency we will not block them. Yes, we have the policy that says schools cannot charge exclusively in forex, but remember we are dealing with a community of parents and if they collectively decide on something, we will not stand in their way," Ndoro was quoted saying.

In a circular seen by NewsDay, Arundel School in Harare has pegged its 2023 school fees at US$2 980 per term for day schoolers, while borders will have to fork out US$5 150. It said the fee increases were caused by high inflation in the country.

The school is reportedly charging over US$1 500 enrolment fees for Form 1 places.

"Our country's economic challenges and US$ inflation continue to present difficulties as costs increase in real terms. Despite this, I assure you that the board remains committed to strategically pursue all avenues to keep costs at reasonable levels without compromising the quality of education offered at the school," the Arundel School circular read.

While the bulk of schools were still assessing the situation, and keeping everything under wraps, some private schools such as Falcon College, St George's and government-run Prince Edward High School are reportedly already charging exorbitant fees.

A headmaster at a boarding school in Manicaland who refused to be named yesterday said: "The cost of running a school have gone up, but some parents are resisting paying the school fees. There is nothing we can do."

However, teachers unions said the enrolment fees were out of the reach for most civil servants and other workers.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe tweeted: "Grade 7 results are in; common sense is outside the window. Boarding schools are on average charging US$1 200 for a Form 1 place, including uniforms. A teacher will need six months to get their Form 1 child into a boarding school. Shocking levels of pauperism in the civil service."

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: "Government has also given a go ahead to schools to charge fees in US$ and they have even gone on to say that if parents do not afford, they should move away from that school. So, we have a clear ideological position for the government of the day where education is now a commodity on the market. It's only bought by those who can afford it, those who can't - tough luck. This is against the dictates of section 75 of the Constitution where the State is supposed to fund for basic free education."

In a statement, the Educators Union of Zimbabwe said: "Those exorbitant fees are symptoms of an educational system rotten to the core. Corruption is now rife among school administrators who want to fatten their pockets in time before retirement.

"We call on the government to address their remuneration and pension issues since these are the major drivers of corruption. It is a tragedy that we have policy-makers that disregard many factors when making such decisions. Clearly, this figure is not well researched. It leaves us with more questions than answers. In brief, a minimum wage of US$150 is a wage set to exploit the workers and perpetuate slavery in our own motherland."

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe