Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
Parents will have to pay full fees for the 2022 first term starting on Monday, even though it is a bit shorter than usual, since the missing days have been spread over the second and third terms.
But the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said school authorities needed to agree with parents on any increase in fees to be charged for this term, which would then have to be approved by the Ministry.
A number of schools, especially privately-owned ones, have in most cases double their fees in US dollar terms without consulting parents, and use rates above those on the parallel market to effect Zimdollar payments.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education could not easily create a calendar of three equal terms because of the way public holidays bunch, and especially of the need to have the Easter, Independence and Workers Day holidays in the vacation between the first and second terms so that there is minimal disruption of school terms.
Lessons are expected to resume on Monday, with learners remaining in school for 45 days before schools close on April 7.
The second term will begin on May 3 and runs for 69 days until August 4, while the third term will have 71 school days from September 5 to December 8.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said this should not affect the fees structure of schools in any way.
“We have had cases of parents who have been asking whether the first term is not too short compared to the second term and third term,” he said.
“The school fees are approved per term and the days that have been removed from the first term have been factored into the second and third terms, so there should be no challenges with the fees. The fees that are approved will be there.”
About a third of the pupils in the public school system will have their tuition fees covered by the major increase in the BEAM budget for this year, with the Government determined that genuine parental poverty must not be allowed to curtain a child’s education in any way.
The Government has been conducting a tour of schools to ensure preparedness to reopen under strict Covid-19 protocols.
The Ministries of Health and Child Care and of Primary and Secondary Education are working together to implement the standard operating procedures that were put in place and then improved last year to safeguard the health of learners and staff in all schools.
Mr Ndoro said most schools in urban, peri-urban and rural areas were now ready to receive learners.
“Preparations are progressing very well in all schools,” he said. “Obviously there are a few final touches that some remote and under-resourced schools still have to do and we have been making recommendations so those are being put in place.
“Otherwise we have all hands on deck and this means schools opening will go smoothly on Monday.”
In terms of the few schools damaged by the heavy rains brought about by overland tropical depression Ana last week, Government has concluded assessments to determine the work needed to be done.
Mr Ndoro said repairs had already started and the Ministry was confident that they would be complete in time for learners to resume lessons.
Most of the repairs required were in reattaching roof sheets.