School hikes fees to pay for road

ludger_primary_schoolMARONDERA-SVOSVE - Parents here are bitter about St. Ludger Primary School which raised school fees from US$6 to US$10 starting next term, ostensibly to fund a public road maintenance project and purchase text books. (Pictured: St. Ludger Primary School in Marondera)

The school, which recently received text books and other educational material from UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Culture, said the donations where a drop in the ocean.

How can a self-respecting school increase fees to fund maintenance of a road network which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport? asked an irate parent. Levying parents to fund the maintenance of a gravel road leading to

a local Anglican Church, is stretching villagers patience to the extreme.

Last Wednesday, parents with children enrolled at the school were advised of the new fee structure. Authorities at the school said the fee increase was caused by the need to maintain a gravel road leading to a local Anglican Church, to make

life comfortable for priests visiting the house of God on Sundays. Part of the fee would be channelled towards provision of resources to workers maintaining part of the Marondera-Devedzo tarred road. The road is a baby of the Ministry of Transport. As for the gravel road leading to the church, parents suggested church members should shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the road.

Imagine a school headmaster having the guts to tell parents that he was hiking school fees because the school wanted to buy building material for an unfinished classroom block. This was despite the fact that parents have been paying levies

towards the school development fund since time immemorial.

As parents we strongly believe the government should investigate the school as poor rural parents are being turned into cash cows by unscrupulous school authorities. We expected school fees to fall as a result of donations of school stationery by UNICEF and The Ministry of Education led by Minister David Coltart, said a parent, Nicholas Muzunze.

Concerned parents accused selfish and heartless teachers of fattening their purses at the expense of the welfare of struggling villagers. Recently, the school forced parents to donate in cash or kind towards an unnecessary toilet construction project.

Though the school had adequate toilet facilities, school authorities forced parents to bankroll the construction of a white elephant toilet project at the school football and netball pitches. The toilets are hardly used by pupils as they were constructed in the bush next to sporting facilities. This was an unnecessary and luxurious project, said another parent.

However, school authorities remained adamant that the fee hike was necessary since the proposed projects were in the best interest of the surrounding communities.

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