BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and reduce the recently announced examination fees because the majority of learners cannot afford them.
A circular from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry seen by NewsDay stated that government raised the Zimsec examination fees by up to three times in some instances.
This will see Grade 7 candidates paying $4 388 while the government will chip in with $5 362, giving a total of $9 750.
Ordinary Level candidates will pay $1 620 while the government will pay $1 980 per subject, giving a total of $3 600.
Last year, students paid $742 after a 55% subsidy from the government, which paid $906.
Advanced Level candidates will now pay $3 240, up from $1 080 per subject last year, while the government will pay $3 960, giving a total of $7 200.
School authorities argue that the new examination fee structure could trigger massive school dropouts as parents struggle to make ends meet due to economic hardships.
In a letter dated May 10, 2022, addressed to the Primary and Secondary Education ministry and copied to the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Finance ministry and the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said: “While in theory the figures may look miniscule given the loss in the value of the Zimdollar, it should not make us lose sight of the egregious fact that these figures are still not affordable to the generality of the candidates and their funders.”
“You may be aware of the figures we produced last week, which indicate the unfortunate and shocking statistic that the Zimsec O’ Level candidature has been falling by steep levels since 2017, from a high of 332 473 in November 2017, to a low of 163 179 in 2021, a mind-blowing 51%. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that more and more learners are dropping from school as a result of endemic poverty pervading through the society.”
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro referred all questions to Zimsec spokesperson Nicholette Dlamini. Dlamini said: “I have not yet seen the letter from PTUZ, but we have not yet set examination fees.”
Majongwe, however, said school heads had already ordered pupils to start paying the examination fees based on the government circular, which has triggered an outcry among parents.