School bars students over unpaid fees

SOME students from Thekwane High School in Plumtree were yesterday barred from boarding the bus taking them to school for the opening of the second term today due to non-payment of fees.

LUYANDUHLOBO MAKWATI/ BENSON DUBE

Thekwane High School students queue beside a school bus before their bank deposit slips are checked.  Inset: A Nkomo who said he is the school treasurer stands by the bus door refusing entry to students with unpaid school fees at the City Hall car park in Bulawayo yesterday

Thekwane High School students queue beside a school bus before their bank deposit slips are checked. Inset: A Nkomo who said he is the school treasurer stands by the bus door refusing entry to students with unpaid school fees at the City Hall car park in Bulawayo yesterday

The school treasurer only identified as Nkomo said students whose fees had not been paid could not board the bus as this was agreed to at a meeting held last term between the school and parents.

Nkomo stood at the door of the bus and ensured that only those students in possession of bank deposit slips showing that school fees had been paid in full could board.

Those without receipts were turned away and Nkomo did not entertain any pleas from parents and guardians of students whose fees had been partially or not paid.

“No student will board this bus. Only those who are fully paid up will enter the bus and this was agreed during a meeting with parents last term so please do not bother smuggling your child in as they will be turned away upon entering the school premises,” he bellowed while checking bank deposit slips.

A parent, who did not want to be named for fear his child would be victimised, was angry her child was prevented from boarding the school bus despite paying the bulk of the fees.

“I paid $400 last week and am only left with $65. I am shocked to hear the school treasurer saying my child is not getting into the bus,” she said.

“He behaves as if he is not a Zimbabwean. I don’t know if his children are treated the same.”

Sydney Dlodlo, a guardian of a student at Thekwane, said he managed to pay $300 and the remainder would be sent this weekend by the child’s parents in South Africa.

“I paid $300 for my niece and the remainder will be cleared this weekend as her parents will be sending money,” he said.

“l do not know who to approach with this regard as the treasurer is the one at the door (of the bus).”

This was despite a warning by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Saturday that it was unconstitutional to turn away children for failing to pay school fees.

ZLHR argued that turning away learners had led to an increase in the number of school dropouts as most of them were from disadvantaged families and acquiring an education was their only way out of poverty.

The government has also repeatedly warned schools against barring learners from school with Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora saying no child

should be sent home for not paying fees.

Dokora is on record saying parents and schools should rather discuss a payment plan instead of blocking children from attending class.

Meanwhile, education officials in Matabeleland have expressed optimism that the second school term which starts today would run smoothly as schools had been adequately staffed. Bulawayo provincial education director Dan Moyo said he expected lessons to start today, as all vacant teaching posts in the city had been filled.

“As a province, we believe that we have done our part. Our colleagues conducted interviews for new teachers. I am convinced that today it will be all systems go in schools with no problems,” he said.

“We are more than ready and we are looking forward to a good term. So far we haven’t come across any problems that could affect our operations.”

Matabeleland North deputy provincial education director Mathias Luphahla said recruitment of teachers to fill vacant posts was concluded on Friday.

“You know that Matabeleland North is a big province, but we have been liaising with our district officers,” he said.

“The information that we have is that recruitment was completed last Friday and we are ready to work.”

He said from today, his officials would visit schools with district education officers to ensure that teaching was taking place.

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