Schools turn pupils away from school for non-payment of fees

HUNDREDS of Bulawayo students were today (11 September 2012) turned away from school for non-payment of fees despite directives by the Ministry of Education that school authorities should not do so. Schools officially opened for the third term today. In a survey around the city, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) identified at least nineteen schools, both primary and secondary, that have denied children access to school due to failure by the students to produce school fees receipt

The schools include Mgoqo, Mawaba, Nduba, Mkhithika, Nyamande, Mgiqika, Pelandaba, Mpumelelo, Mckeurtan, Newman’s Ford, Matshayisikova, Senzangakhona, and Mkhithika Primary Schools, and Nkulumane, Gifford, Townsend, Emakhandeni, Sikhulile and Luveve High Schools. Children were chased away for various reasons including non-payment of the third term’s tuition fees, failure to clear balances from previous terms, and various levies such as building levy.

BPRA sees the chasing of children from school as a violation of the rights of children to access education, and also as a violation of their dignity and pride. The association believes that the Ministry of Education, and the government should be held accountable for the development. As the association has pointed out in the past, there is a need for the education department to put measures in place to ensure that schools adhere to the directives of the government on education. This could be done through improvement of policing mechanisms. BPRA believes that at the moment, children are bearing the brunt of poor management of the education sector. The association challenges the government to improve the country’s economy as ultimately high unemployment and poor remuneration are partly responsible for the situation.

While BPRA acknowledges that schools need tuition fees and levies to function normally, the association wishes to remind schools that they enter into agreements with parents and guardians, not school children. It is therefore morally wrong for children to face the music when their parents and guardians fail to pay their fees, and it is at odds with the country’s laws, not to mention that it is an affront on the right of children to access education. Schools should make arrangements with parents and guardians and leave children alone to attend classes.

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