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Zimbabwe govt warns schools against privatising education

by Staff reporter
19 Feb 2024 at 04:55hrs | Views
THE government has issued a stern warning to schools against privatising education, amid rising costs and concerns about accessibility, with statistics showing a rise in dropouts.

The warning by the government comes following reports of a rise in fees charged by public and private schools, leading to an increase in school dropouts.

Speaking to NewsDay, Primary and Secondary Education secretary Moses Mhike said all tuition fee increments should be approved by the government.

"Any fee hike approval of any school comes through the ministry through an application, where we know a parent's assembly has met for that purpose and then agreed," Mhike said.

He said after following due protocol, the government communicates to the school if its application has been approved or rejected.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said every school, including privately run schools, must charge ministry-approved fees only.

"Every school is supposed to display at the school notice board, the correspondence of the approved fees structure from the ministry," Ndoro said.

According to the ministry, the proportion of primary and secondary school dropouts stand at 0,44% and 4,44%, respectively, with the United Nations Children's Fund estimating that around 500 000 children of school-going age are currently out of school.

"In 2021, the primary school dropouts remained at 0,53%. The proportion of secondary school dropouts also decreased annually, from 3,99% in 2017 to 3,09% in 2019. Since then, the proportion increased to 3,28% in 2020 and 4,67% in 2021," the ministry said.

"In the year 2022, the Zimbabwean proportion of primary and secondary school dropouts stood at 0,44% and 4,44%, respectively."

However, teacher unions have criticised lack of enforcement, calling for fees to remain affordable and accessible to all pupils.

"The right to education is facing an assault through incessant fee hikes," said Obert Masaraure, president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe.

"Schools should not milk more than is necessary from struggling parents."

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said they were against the privatisation of education, which made it a "preserve and privilege of the rich" through exorbitant school fees.

"While we appreciate the role played by responsible authorities in the provision of education in Zimbabwe, we implore that fees must remain affordable just as at other public schools."

In December, the government threatened to punish school heads for unauthorised fee hikes, but similar threats in the past have yielded little result.

Source - newsday
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