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Do not hike fees willy-nilly, says minister

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Bulawayo Bureau
GOVERNMENT has said schools must be reasonable in pegging fees, taking into account economic difficulties parents and guardians are facing.

In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima said it was 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 macroeconomic environment. Some of them have even demanded that parents buy 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 textbooks 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.

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