Outcry over US$ school fees 

Source: Outcry over US$ school fees – NewsDay Zimbabwe

PARENTS have expressed concern over a decision by some schools to peg half of their school fees in foreign currency, mainly the United States dollar (US$).

Schools open on September 3, 2022 for the third term and most schools now want fees paid in foreign currency.

Some parents, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, said the decision was brutal given that their salaries were paid in local currency and they had no access to foreign currency.

Parents also feel that educational standards have fallen to the extent that they are no longer commensurate with foreign currency fees.

Schools such as Mtshabezi, David Livingstone, Wanezi, Tsholotsho and George Silundika High in Matabeleland and other schools in different parts of the country have sent notices to parents demanding that half of the school fees must be paid in foreign currency.

“We have started paying half of the fees in forex, but we were not consulted as parents,’’ a parent told NewsDay.

Another parent of a student at Wanezi Mission said they were issued notices to pay half of next term’s fees in foreign currency.

David Livingstone High School is said to have pegged its fees at US$720 or its equivalent using the interbank rate.

A few parents supported the USD fees, saying inflation was quickly eroding fees, a situation that resulted in children at boarding schools going hungry.

National Association of Schools Development Committee chairperson Max Mkandla encouraged parents and school authorities to engage before such decisions are made to avoid disputes.

“Such decisions should match with service delivery, we have seen some schools that have taken such decisions, but they are producing poor pass rates. This then raises issues of accountability,” Mkandla said.

In Parliament last Wednesday, Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya (CCC) demanded a statement from Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu over allegations that her ministry has allowed schools to charge fees in United States dollars at a time when civil servants are earning below the poverty datum line.

“Some schools are refusing RTGS, and want the whole amount to be paid in US dollars.  If there is no clear policy regarding the payment of fees, we will face problems on the day schools open,” Chikwinya said.

Ndlovu is yet to issue a ministerial statement on the matter.

Parents in Harare told NewsDay that very few of them were able to access US$ to pay fees.

Zimbabwe Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said: “As school authorities we encourage government to allow schools to charge US$ fees because the local currency is difficult to use for planning purposes. It gets weaker every day,” Majoni said.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said no school should force parents to pay fees in foreign currency.

“The policy position is that fees must be paid in local currency. However, if parents have free funds in forex, they can pay at the prevailing interbank rate. No school should force any parent to pay in forex,” Ndoro said.

He said all fees should be approved by the ministry.