Schools send pupils away over fees

SEVERAL schools sent away pupils, with a host of others threatening to bar them from attending lessons that began yesterday over non-payment of tuition fees, a survey by Southern Eye revealed.

Nqobani Ndlovu

St Bernards Primary (Pumula), Senzangendaba Primary (Emganwini), Lobengula High, Mhali Primary (Magwegwe) and Emakhandeni Primary schools were some of the institutions chasing pupils away, while many others promised to bar pupils without fee receipts from attending lessons today.

Schools opened yesterday for the third term.

Parents who spoke to Southern Eye said they were disturbed by the sending away of their children over failure to pay fees on time and begged authorities to allow them to negotiate payment terms.

“I have four children and all of them are going to school,” Cecilia Moyo, a parent from Emganwini, said.

“I am not refusing to pay fees, but all I am saying is that authorities should allow us to pay half now and the remainder at the end of the month.”

In the past, the Education ministry encouraged parents to pay fees on time, but at the same time urged authorities to allow parents to negotiate payment terms.

Other residents said they were too poor to afford paying all the fees on time, particularly owing to the meagre salaries they received, which were worsened by continued company closures in the city.

More than 100 companies are reported to have closed shop since 2009 in Bulawayo, sending thousands into unemployment.

“I am not working and I survive on vending and that is the money my family and I depend on, before we even think of paying tuition fees,” Afro Nyoni, from Magwegwe high-density suburb, said.

Dumisani Nkomo, an analyst, said it was not surprising that parents were failing to pay fees on time owing to the harsh economic situation and urged the government to subsidise education.

“The State should be able to subsidise education, but that is a function of the economy since it has to be able to sustain such a system,” he said.

“There should be safety nets such as Beam (Basic Education Assistance Module) to alleviate the plight of vulnerable children, but the definition of vulnerable has widened because most Zimbabweans are unemployed.”

Last year, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said it was illegal and criminal for schools to send away pupils for not paying fees and urged parents whose children continue to be shut out to report the cases to the police.

ZLHR said while school authorities were entitled to their fees, they should resort to legal ways of recovering fees from the pupils through their parents.

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