Parents head for rural schools in protest against centre fees

Government schools registering students wishing to re- write their O and A level exams are charging high centre fees, The Zimbabwean has learnt.

Several schools in Chitungwiza are charging centre fees for every subject and parents are outraged at what they call unfair treatment.

Givemore Gwatidzo from Unit K in Seke, who wanted to register his son at Seke 2 High School said: “The charges are too much if a student wants to register more than five subjects. Demanding fees to be paid per subject is very unfair.”

The education ministry reported that 285,260 students sat for O levels in 2013 compared to 268,854 in 2012. The overall pass rate for November 2013 was 20,72 percent – a slight increase on the 2012 figure of 18,4 percent.

However, of the 173,856 students that sat for five or more subjects in November 2013, a paltry 36,031 scored grade C or better in five or more subjects.

Parents have been flocking to rural schools in neighbouring Seke communal lands, which they say are charging ‘reasonable centre fees.’

Fatima Mbewe from Unit O in Seke said she would take her niece, who wants to re- write six subjects, to Seke Materera High School in Chihota, about seven km from Chitungwiza.

“I have done my homework and they charge between $10 and $25 as centre fees and you can write as many subjects as you want,” she said. “Some schools are charging between $8- $10 per subject, which is a lot of money that some of us cannot afford.”

Another disgruntled parent, Sarudzai Muchena said: “Some schools are charging as much as $20 per subject including registration fees to the education ministry. Students who want to write four of five subjects are parting with $80 or $100. This is daylight robbery.”

Students wishing to re- write their examinations in June at Zengeza 4 High School in Chitungwiza were told that first preference was given to students who enrolled for night school.

“We only have an allocation of 100 students from the education ministry on the number of candidate to use this school in June and this includes our students who want to write in June,” said one of the school administrators. “First preference is being given to those enrolled for night school here. “

Other centres are charging as much as $50 or $60 in fees. The source revealed that night school registration fees per subject were $10 for one, $9 for two and $8 for three and $7 for four or more subjects.

An external student wishing to sit for the June examinations said this was an indirect way of forcing people to enrol for night school. “We have no choice because that is the condition for registration,” he said, showing proof that he had enrolled at the school for night lessons.

Efforts to get a comment from the education ministry were futile.

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