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Schools demand fees from exam candidates

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2022 at 05:55hrs | Views
SOME schools in Bulawayo have been demanding fees for candidates that are writing Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations, a practice that has been condemned by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Normally, pupils finish writing public examinations by mid-December, but last year's exam timetable spilled over into this year due to learning disruptions caused by Covid-19.

O and A Level exams took a two-week break on December 17 and resumed on January 3.

The exams are expected to end on January 31.

In light of this, some schools have written to parents demanding 33 percent of full-term fees so that they conduct examinations for the papers that spilled into year.

"You are expected to pay before or on the third of January 2022, being 33% of the fees of a normal 60-day term.

Please, pay timeously so that the examinations are run smoothly and efficiently," read one message from Gifford High School.

At Milton High School the situation is the same as parents say they were told to pay $2 000. It is a different case at Eveline High School as pupils were supposed to pay $6 000 for the third term and because of the extension by 20 days of the term, they are now paying an extra $2 100.

According to the schools, this money covers utility bills, fuel- exams collected and delivered daily, purchase of sanitisers and disinfectants, cleaning materials and salaries of grounds staff.

Some schools are threatening to withhold results should parents not pay.

One parent said:

"We are hard pressed for money and I thought my child would finish their exams this month as normal. I paid examination fees but I was surprised as were other parents that we had to pay over $2 000 for the consumables. It's impossible for me to do that because I have already paid rent and other things," said the parent.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said parents with day scholars are not expected to pay.

"As for day scholars they have a contract with Zimsec. They are just going to the centre; they write their exam and they're dismissed. There's no need for money for this and that, they just write and they are dismissed," said Mr Ndoro.

"This is why they pay examination fees, which are supposed to cover all that and if they have any issues, it'll be prudent to refer them (schools) to Zimsec."

Mr Ndoro said it was understandable that parents with children writing at boarding schools pay for their children's upkeep.

"The boarders pay for their upkeep because the school can't keep them there without getting them something to eat.

They will probably use electricity in the evening to study. They're certain schools that pro rata these fees on a daily basis, while others on a weekly basis," he said.

"Other parents will say, look, my child is going to write only two papers so I will take my child to write the exam.

Then take them back home and then return them for the other exam. Which is actually cheaper (than the pupil staying in boarding)."

Mr Ndoro said if schools and parents agree on a fee, the figure should be nominal.

"If there's a day school that's actually charging, any utilities I can use are just a token, perhaps for cleaning the toilets, it'll be very nominal. It'll be a figure that you will also want to pay if you use a public toilet. Because you are at the school and you want to use the toilet and who is going to clean it," said Mr Ndoro.

"The figure is very nominal, but this is where the problem is, what do they want the $2 500 for? Perhaps one learner is in in upper six and is writing one exam and you want them to pay $2 500."

Mr Ndoro said schools should sympathise with parents who are already struggling.

"We don't want our institutions to look like corrupt institutions. Because this starts to raise red flags and we should have discipline in terms of how these levies are to be collected. These learners already paid their examination fees which will cater for the overheads. Obviously, there is a conciliatory tone that we can have and say if you are waiting, pay at least $100 per day for the school to be able to clean the ablution facilities," said Mr Ndoro.

Source - The Chronicle
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