SOME parents with children attending the Roman Catholic Church-run Dominican Convent High School in Bulawayo are up in arms with school authorities for demanding tuition fees in full for their children to attend class.
Dominican Convent is reportedly demanding the full fees of $1 100 before accepting children into the school moving away from prior arrangements of a payment plan.
A parent who spoke to Southern Eye said the school had initially hiked fees to $1 300 for the second term, but was forced to revert to the current figure following a government directive.
“This term parents were told to bring all the cash up front which has caused a strain to parents. The school is not entertaining any stories,” one affected parent said.
“What is worse is that my child is doing Form 4 and will soon be writing her ‘O’ Level examinations. Besides the fees, we are expected to pay examination fees for Cambridge pegged at £40 per subject.”
The parent said other private schools like Christian Brothers’ College were accepting a payment plan and it boggled the mind why Convent had adopted such a hard line stance.
“Before, we would pay half the fees at the beginning of the term and the rest in two monthly instalments. My daughter is seated at home while I try and raise all the cash. The situation is so bad that now we have to run around and ask for notes from those that are going to school so she can study while at home. It’s so retrogressive that you send a child to Convent from Grade 1 and then at this critical moment in her schooling, she is turned away,” the parent complained.
“Next month they will be writing mock examinations which would be the final preparation for the final examinations. How do they prepare when they are not going to school? If you try to engage the headmistress Sister Rudo Matsika, she does not even entertain you as long as you do not have the full fees.”
Contacted for comment, Matsika referred questions to the school board chairperson Francis Manamike.
Manamike said the move was agreed at a meeting with parents and the school last term.
He said parents also got into an agreement with three banks whereby they could access loans to pay fees upon depositing a certain amount and then repay the financial institutions on a monthly basis.
Manamike said parents with affected children were mostly those who had made payment arrangements last term, but failed to honour the agreement until schools opened for the current term.
“We have always given people terms of payment and parents with affected children are those who failed to fulfil arrangements agreed upon during the first term and this time around we want the same arrangements. When pupils are barred from entering school premises, it is on a case by case basis and not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Manamike said.