Education for all – a distant memory

HARARE - Hundreds of tertiary, primary and secondary school students failed to return to school as the new term opened Tuesday due to a combination of steep fees increases, extremely high bus fare for boarders and a massive shortage in enrolment places.
Most schools hiked their tuition by an aver

age 100 percent, citing inflationary pressures. At Lusitania Primary School in Greendale for example, school fees for a Grade One pupil shot from Z$145,000 last year to Z$277,000 this term.
A parent who had a pupil going to Grade 3 at the school told The Zimbabwean that she had pulled out her child from the school and registered her at a township day school in Sunningdale.
Day schools in the townships were overwhelmed with students seeking placements.
At Harare High in Mbare, the school officials said they could not meet the demand for enrolment places and had sought permission from the education ministry to take in more than the stipulated maximum of 60 students per class. There is already “hot seating” at the school, with two sets of classes each day, the morning and afternoon class.
At Mbare Musika bus terminus, hundreds of students were still stranded on Tuesday after long distance bus operators took advantage of the huge demand in transport by hiking their fares to astronomical levels. A student who wanted to travel to Gokomere High School in Masvingo said he had been at the terminus since Monday hoping to get a cheaper bus. The regulated fare for travel to Masvingo is $7,000 but bus operators were charging $25,000 for a trip.
Weighed down by a collapsing economy, most parents said they could no longer
afford boarding fees and transferred their children to local schools, which are usually cheap. Even local schools hiked their fares with tuition at Kuwadzana High 1 for example shooting to $30,000 up from $20,000. Levies also went up by the same margin. This was on top of a massive surge in the prices of school uniforms and books.
Hundreds of Form One students also failed to secure places at the relatively cheaper schools. However, Form One places were available in Mufakose and Mbare at Number 3 and 4 High Schools, St Peters, Mbare High and George Stark which are considered the worst schools in Harare due to their appallingly low pass rate. However most parents were reluctant to enroll their children at these schools.
Meanwhile, students at tertiary institutions were girding their loins, preparing to confront government through “jambanja” after a steep rise in tuition.
Most students failed to enroll for class on Monday at Harare Polytechnic after a sharp rise in tuition from $11,000 to $350,000 per term. While President Mugabe is on record saying no students should be turned away from school because they have failed to raise fees, students who had not paid tuition at the Polytechnic in Harare were barred from attending class.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said President Mugabe’s “Education For All” policy, which he declared when he first took office in 1980, was becoming an ever more distant memory.

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