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Schools warned against arm-twisting parents

by Staff reporter
10 Jan 2024 at 05:31hrs | Views
As schools opened smoothly yesterday with cholera protocols and procedures being observed, the Government warned rogue school administrators against holding parents and guardians to ransom by turning away learners for failure to pay fees or withholding results of public examinations.

The turnout for both teachers and learners was 100 percent countrywide with Primary and Secondary Education Minister Torerayi Moyo banning schools charging fees exclusively in foreign currency or forcing purchase of uniforms and stationery at their institutions.

Minister Moyo accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Mr Moses Mhike yesterday toured several schools to assess whether the cholera protocols were being observed and whether learners in arrears were being turned away.

Speaking after touring Oriel Boys High, Eastridge Primary in Harare and Makomo Primary in Epworth, Minister Moyo said all schools are bound by the procedures to be followed when making school fees adjustments according to Secretary's Circular No. 1 of 2023.

He said the Permanent Secretary would not approve any increase of fees or levies sought in respect of the next term unless the increases were justified by reference to some basis other than the application of the consumer price index. "Further, the proposal to increase fees or levies must be approved by a majority of the parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than 20 percent of the parents.

"Once the Permanent Secretary has approved the fees and levies, a copy of the approval letter must be displayed on the school public notice board for all parents and guardians to refer," he said.

On charging school fees exclusively in foreign currency, Minister Moyo said in accordance with the Secretary's Circular No. 10 of 2022, Government policy position is that school fees must be paid in local currency.

"No school, therefore, must force any parent to pay fees or levies exclusively in foreign currency since parents are free to pay in a currency of their choice as Zimbabwe operates under a multi-currency regime.

"If fees are pegged in foreign currency for value preservation, parents must pay school fees in local currency at the prevailing interbank rate of the day the transaction is made," he said.

On purchase of uniforms and stationery at schools, the minister reiterated that parents and guardians were free to purchase uniforms and stationery wherever they find it cheaper in line with the specifications by the schools.

"Heads of schools and responsible authorities are therefore warned to abide by this directive and desist from making it mandatory for parents to buy school uniforms and stationery exclusively at their schools," he said.

Minister Moyo said in line with Secretary's Circular No. 3 of 2019, no school should withhold results for Grade 7, O and A Level candidates while demanding outstanding arrears for fees and levies.

"The contract of undertaking public examinations in Zimbabwe is between ZIMSEC and the candidates while the obligation to pay fees and levies remains with the parents and guardians,"  he said.

Minister Moyo also said despite the fact that no school should turn away learners, the parents and guardians should also play their part by paying fees on time to avoid disruptions of learning.

"Parents and guardians are obliged to pay approved school fees and levies as required by the school to meet its operational costs and overheads. No child must be sent away from school for non-payment of fees and levies," he said.

"In that regard, the contractual agreement on payment of approved fees and levies remains with the parents or guardians and the school. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continues to strive to provide access to quality, relevant, inclusive, equitable and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans," the minister said.

Eastridge Primary School head Mr Obey Zinyemba said they opened smoothly.

"We have started our first day on a good note with all learners in attendance. Teachers have also reported for duty except for one who is sick who sent a note. In terms of preparedness to curb cholera we have all mechanisms in place including hand washing and water points. We have two boreholes on standby, one solar and one electrical which complement each other in terms of power outages," he said.

Epworth's Makomo Primary School headmaster Mr Tapiwa Mapisa said they also started on a high note.

"All the 69 teachers had 100 percent attendance while for learners only a handful failed to turn up.

"As for cholera we have done our level best. We have various points dotted around the school with water buckets, soap and sanitisers," he said.

Source - The Herald