Chaos reigns in Chitungwiza primary schools

Government schools are entitled to send primary schoolpupils home over non-payment of the $5 tuition fee, a cabinet minister has said.

Education Minister David Coltart
Education Minister David Coltart

Education Minister David Coltart, asked whether it was a government directive to send pupils home over late fee payments, said “no primary schools are free in Zimbabwe and the amount that is charged by the government is very little.”

Coltart added, “this fee does not apply to the rural schools but it is mandatory for pupils in urban areas excluding those that are on the Basic Education Assistance Module.”

He said sending pupils home was unfortunate, but parents should have paid the fee by the opening day “because $5 for the whole term is an amount that can be budgeted”.

Confusion reigned at most government schools in Chitungwiza as pupils were sent back home over non-payment of the fee.

A snap survey revealed long queues at administrators’ offices as parents jostled to settle their over-due payments. At Tangenhamo and Tadzikamidzi primary schools in Zengeza, and Dudzai primary in Seke, pupils were sent home as early as 7:30 am.

Disgruntled parents called the conduct of school administrators “deplorable”, and said parents should have been informed that the fee had to be paid by opening day. Reginald Shoriwa of Zengeza said, “I had relaxed assuming that my grade one daughter was safely in class, only to meet her later at the bus-stop.”

Another parent, Sheila Donzo from Seke, said parents are more than eager to pay the government fees on time, but poverty was still a challenge for most parents.

“We are surviving on a hand to mouth basis. No parent wants their child to be sent back home over non-payment of fees, but the economics are a challenge,” said Donzo.

Millennium Development Goal 2 seeks to achieve universal worldwide primary education by 2015 through the provision of quality, free and compulsory education at primary level. Zimbabwe is also a signatory to various conventions that protect the educational rights of the child.

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