School fees shock – NewsDay Zimbabwe
BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO/LORRAINE MUROMO
The GOVERNMENT and private schools have raised fees ahead of opening day tomorrow, citing the weakening Zimbabwean dollar.
While most schools were still assessing the situation, some private schools such as Falcon College, St George’s and government-run Prince Edward High School have already announced new fees.
Parents of Falcon’s children are expected to shell out $1.3 million, or $2,500 on the black market and $6,300 at the official rate. It’s a raise of about $600,000 for the third term last year, which also sent shockwaves when it was announced.
Schools, like any other business in the country, are informed by local currency movements in the parallel market.
The official exchange rate last week was $159.34 per US dollar, while on the parallel market the greenback was trading between $380 and $400.
“Unfortunately, given the difficulty of accurately forecasting inflation trends, particularly given recent volatility, parents should note that we may increase an additional charge through a top-up. Parents wishing paying fees in U.S. dollars will be exempt from any surcharges,” Falcon College Board Chair Andrew Marchussen wrote to parents in a letter dated April 11.
In a letter dated April 28, Prince Edward School principal Agrippa Sora said day schools would pay $50,800, while boarders would part with $195,970.
Other schools reportedly raising tuition fees are the Roman Catholic-run Marist Brothers Secondary School in Nyanga and Kutama Secondary School.
Meanwhile, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Obert Masaraure, told NewsDay that 90% of parents hired by the union in various parts of the country do not have enough money to pay school fees. tuition, purchase learning materials and provide logistical support to learners.
“Parents have blamed underpayment in their workplaces as the reason they are not funding their children’s education. Some have revealed that they lost their jobs after being made redundant during the COVID-19 crisis. Some parents in rural areas are now investing in buying food at the expense of education after experiencing a poor harvest this year,” Masaraure said.
President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Takavafira Zhou, said: “The arrogant government is pushing for the opening of schools and it seems they are not ready to listen to any voice of reason. The big question is how will parents afford to pay exorbitant fees to facilitate the successful opening of schools? The teachers are also parents who received a salary of $18,000 who cannot even buy 4 kg of kapenta fish. Now they expect $90,000 in tuition.
Citizens Coalition for Change chairman Nelson Chamisa also said yesterday that teachers were not sending their children to boarding schools because of low salaries.
Contacted for comment, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu said schools needed permission from the government before raising fees.
“Wait until I reply that when I return to work on Tuesday, by then I will have statistics and I will tell you our position. For schools to raise fees, they must first seek permission,” Ndlovu said.
Teachers’ unions yesterday said their members would not report to work citing incapacity.
Civil Service Minister Paul Mavima has since implored teachers to be patient, saying their salaries cannot be revised each time schools open.
“We just changed the package for teachers… every time schools open. We are entering the second quarter and we need them to be patient and go through the negotiation process. If a review is necessary, it will be determined during the negotiation process,” Mavima said last week.
Zimbabwe Educators Union President Tafadzwa Munodawafa said workers, especially teachers, should take the lead to ensure their dignity is restored.
“We celebrated Workers’ Day with miserable faces – facing misery in all aspects of our lives and a bleak year. As teachers, we should stand up and reject slave wages. We should not wait for miracles so that one day, the employer will take pity on us and just restore our salaries and our dignity. We just need to take the initiative. We demand that our salaries be restored to the pre-2018 level of US$540. Certainly the workers cannot breathe”, Munodawafa
Teachers and the government have been embroiled in a protracted standoff, with the former demanding pre-October 2018 pay ranging from US$520 to US$540.
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