High fees trigger exodus from private schools

Source: High fees trigger exodus from private schools | The Sunday News September 8, 2019

High fees trigger exodus from private schools
Mrs Olicah Kaira

Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter

THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is keen to absorb pupils at Government schools who are transferring from private schools following massive school fees hikes at most of the learning institutions.

Schools open this week, but some private schools in have raised fees beyond the reach of many parents, forcing them to seek places at Government schools. In a wide ranging interview last week, Bulawayo Provincial Education Director Mrs Olicah Kaira said it was Government’s policy never to turn away pupils seeking places to learn.

“I may not have statistics so far of children that have moved from these trust schools and are now in Government schools owing to the increase in fees structure but we do process them here and assist the parents to move them to our schools,” she said.

Private schools, both primary and secondary, have over the past few months been increasing school fees and most of them now range from RTGS$1 000 to as much as RTGS$9 000. Mrs Kaira said trust schools were allowed to raise fees after consultation with parents and the Ministry. Some private boarding schools outside Bulawayo reportedly charge way above that.

Coghlan and Kumalo Primary Schools (in Bulawayo) for instance, she said, have constructed additional classrooms to try and absorb pressure.  Mrs Kaira, however, said there is need for new structures, not only in former Group A schools but in more schools in the province in order to fully implement infrastructural development for the new curriculum to take shape. She said she was pleased that some partners were assisting in building schools in the city.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is set to realign teachers according to their areas of specialisation so that there would be no teacher found in the wrong field, an official has said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Thumisang Thabela made the remarks in a speech read on her behalf by Curriculum Development and Technical Services Director in the Ministry Mr John Dewah, during the official opening of the Zimbabwe Physical Education and Sport Teachers Association (Zipesta) Second edition Scientific Conference held at Kwekwe Polytechnic College last week. 

Mrs Thabela said the Government was also committed to ensure that teachers are well resourced. 

“Government is working hard to resource teachers and schools as well as to realign misplaced teachers so that no Physical Education trained teacher should be found teaching any other subject not trained for. In some schools you find teachers teaching up to Advanced Level but not properly qualified to do so,” she said. 

The Government recently introduced a competency based education curriculum which emphasises on identification and nurturing of talent and polishing up the relatively new concept was ongoing, she said.

She said the ministry was pleased that most schools had implemented the teaching and learning of physical education as per requirements of the new curriculum. 

Zipesta national chairperson Mr Edson Chiroodza said the convention was meant to address issues affecting PE teachers.