via Govt freezes tuition fees | The Herald January 6, 2014 by Felex Share
Government has frozen all school fees this year, even if parents approved the new fees and the school went through all the correct processes.Fees increments might be entertained for next year in proposals sent to Government starting from June this year.
However, some schools had already provisionally increased fees, while they wait for a response from the authorities, arguing they needed extra money to ensure they continued to provide optimum services.
Speaking at a workshop for Government, provincial education directors and district education directors in Harare on Friday, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Schools Mrs Constance Chigwamba said all applications for fees increases by schools countrywide had been turned down.
As such, she said, no parents should be made to pay tuition fees different from what they were paying last term.
“We did put a moratorium on increase of any fees in 2014,” she said. “Any application that came from various schools last year has been turned down. Those schools that have applied either to the provinces or in the case of Trust schools which come direct to the head office got or will get their responses appropriately.
“The PEDs (provincial education directors) have been given a written directive until further notice.”
Some schools did not write to Government last year seeking approval to increase their fees, arguing that parents were not receiving any meaningful salary increases in view of the state of the economy.
However, reports say other schools have already increased school fees for next year . Mrs Chigwamba said Cabinet had turned down any fees increases arguing that the inflation in the country had remained stagnant due to the use of the multiple currencies in the economy.
“First, Cabinet turned down our request for examination fees increases and to the ministry that was an indication that we should not make education expensive, especially for the poor child who is struggling to get the money,” she said.
“Government implements pro-poor policies that do not discriminate any child on the basis of economic status. The inflation has remained stagnant and there is no serious, justified reason for us to keep up upping the fees now when everyone is feeling the economic pinch.”
Mrs Chigwamba warned heads of Government schools against charging unsanctioned fees or levies.
“Any head of school who, whether in cahoots with School Development Committees, increases fees is violating the provisions of Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 coming from the employer the Civil Service Commission,” she said.
“That head or authority in Government will be dealt with as per the provisions for disciplinary procedures.”
Mrs Chigwamba said Government schools should not send away pupils over non-payment of fees and levies when schools open on January 14.
“The issue of levies and payment of fees is for the parent. It is not the child who pays the fees but the parent,” she said. “The contract to supply education services is between the parent and the SDC (school development committee) or the parent and Government. So no child shall be expelled from school for parent’s failure to pay the fees.”
She said SDCs had a Statutory Instrument with provisions where parents can sue defaulting parents.
“In essence, those fees charged can only be charged when the parent board has agreed,” Mrs Chigwamba. “It is up to the parents to agree and say this is the magnitude we can or not pay and these are the sanctions on those who are not honouring. There is always room to arrange a payment plan with the schools.
“As a Government, PEDs have been told that schools should make payment plans for the little fees charged by Government.”