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Mnangagwa gives green-light for school fee hikes

by Staff reporter
27 Aug 2019 at 07:40hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has said schools must be reasonable in pegging fees, taking into cognisance that parents and guardians are facing economic difficulties.

In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima, however, said it is inevitable for schools to increase fees in line with the prevailing economic environment to save the education sector from possible collapse.

Since the start of the year schools have been adjusting fees in line with changes in the macro-economic environment. Some of them have even demanded that parents buy part of the stationery as partial fees payment.

"We don't have an option but to have schools increase like that. But they have to increase in a way that is reasonable, taking into cognisance that parents are hard-up economically. It has to be reasonable. If we don't, our schools will not function properly. Because there are some schools, for example, that have been charging something like $15 per term and if that school say has 500 learners, assuming that everybody pays it means that school is operating at $7 500 per term that's where they buy all the supplies they need for the school," said Prof Mavima.

"But the worst thing is that most of the parents are not paying, maybe payment is at 50 percent so we are talking about $3 750 per term and this is where they have to do repairs, this is where they get their stationery, traditional text books and other things.  

"This is where they draw money for the head to go for meetings and other things. So it's almost impossible for that school to function properly. We have to consider that. Boarding schools the issue of food for the kids, maintenance of hostels and other things like that. All those costs have gone up and if we want our education to flourish we have to make sure that our schools have adequate resources." Government's policy is that learners who have not paid school fees must not be sent away.

Meanwhile, Prof Mavima said the Ministry will next year start the construction of technical high schools and science academies as it moves to harness technical skills from pupils. He said learners at the technical and science academies will be identified in their ordinary schools before getting scholarships to study in the institutions.  

"We want to start a programme for technical high schools. We want to have 10 of these, one in each province of the country. Once, we are done with that, we also want to start science academies, again one in each province of the country. These will be boarding schools.  When they are fully developed they will have 1 000 carrying capacity and pupils will be identified on the basis of assessment of technical aptitude through psychometric testing," said Prof Mavima.

Technically-inclined pupils are viewed as problem solvers who can even create new industries. The Minister said when the schools are fully operational Government wants to be producing 10 000 technically astute learners annually who would respond to the country's challenges.

Prof Mavima said in the following month the Government will commission 17 such schools.

The schools will be built to match international standards with state-of-the-art buildings, teachers' houses, classroom blocks, laboratories including sporting facilities.

"We are have pencilled the month of September for commissioning. We will go to one of sites most likely Budiriro in Gokwe North for commission which will mean that all of them will be commissioned," said Prof Mavima.

Source - chronicle