via ‘School fees freeze will backfire’ January 8, 2014 by Veneranda Langa NewsDay
INDEPENDENT stakeholders in the education sector have warned that government’s recent blanket freeze on school fees without providing other supporting mechanisms such as educational grants might backfire and negatively affect the quality of education.
Justice for Children Trust programmes director Caleb Mutandwa yesterday told NewsDay that the policy directive should have been complemented by other support mechanisms to ensure schools remained financially sound.
Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Constance Chigwamba is on record saying government had placed a moratorium on any school fees increases in 2014, adding that any applications for increases had been turned down.
Said Mutandwa:“If one wants to look at the issue from the perspective of parents, the freeze is a welcome move as many parents are failing to pay fees resulting in their children being sent away from school.
“However, when one looks at it from the perspective of provision of quality education to children, implementation of such a directive without government support to schools might affect the schools in terms of infrastructure and teaching aids,” he said.
“Government should be talking of grants to support schools and implementing what the constitution says that there should be free primary education. If government wanted to safeguard the interests of parents at schools they should monitor if school fee increases were agreed on in a participatory manner by parents instead of freezing increases in fees without supporting schools with grants.”
Schools open next week and most parents are grappling with the task of meeting educational costs for their children.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting secretary-general Gideon Shoko said education was a constitutional right, but must be paid for.
“Parents who are employed are threatening strike action and what we urge government to do pertaining to the issue is to complement the freeze in school fee increases by allocating more money to the education budget so that it removes some of the financial burden from parents,” Shoko said.
He said populist policies could be detrimental to the country as they might affect education.