Schools refuse Stem refunds

Source: Schools refuse Stem refunds – Sunday News Jun 19, 2016

Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
SCHOOLS in Masvingo Province are reportedly reluctant to refund parents who paid fees for their pupils studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) disciplines at A-level before the Government had disbursed the money under the Stem programme. The Government is paying fees for allpupils countrywide who are studying the Stem subjects but when the pupils were enrolled last term and when the second term started, some schools demanded fees from parents while waiting for the Government to disburse the money.

The schools were then supposed to refund the parents soon after receiving the money from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development (Zimdef). However, some parents in Masvingo have said some schools were now reluctant to refund the fees although the institutions have confirmed receiving their allocations from Zimdef under the Stem programme.

According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, 4108 pupils are on the Stem programme countrywide. Mr Jacob Munyenyiwa whose child is learning at Gokomere High School, said he was yet to receive the refund from the school.

“It seems the school authorities are now reluctant to refund us the money we paid when we enrolled our children last term. I paid $600 that covered school fees and boarding fees,” said Mr Munyenyiwa.

Another parent whose daughter is at Pamushana High School said while the programme was a noble idea it would count to nothing if parents were not refunded.

“I have other two children, and thought after getting a refund of about $600 that I had paid, I would use it to pay for my other children who are in other levels. This (Stem) is a noble idea but as long as authorities do not refund our fees it will barely serve its purpose. The school is not coming in the open on when we will receive the money,” said a parent who asked not to be named.

The situation at Mukaro High School is reportedly the same as parents are complaining over the authorities’ reluctance to process the refunds. While Mukaro High School head Mr Acquinas Mazhunga could not be reached for comment on Friday, an official at the school confirmed that parents were complaining over the issue.

“There are two parents who came to the school today in the afternoon asking for their Stem refunds. Advanced level pupils pay $500 as fees and boarding fees and those in the programme have to get refunds,” said the official.

Gokomere High School head Mr Stanley Mutsambiwa confirmed having pupils under the Stem programme but refuted claims that parents were not refunded.

“We have pupils registered under Stem at the school and they have paid their own fees which we are reimbursing. We are presently processing the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) into individual accounts for this term starting from tomorrow,” said Mr Mutsambiwa.

Provincial education director Mr Zadius Chitiga said while he is yet to receive a report to that effect, schools were expected to refund the parents. “I will have to make my own investigations on the schools you have mentioned but basically parents must be refunded to avoid double payments. No one should be deprived of this opportunity,” said Mr Chitiga.