School head baulks at litigation, releases exam results

BULAWAYO-A school headmaster who was illegally holding on to the academic results of former pupils over their parents’ failure to pay fees has relented after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) intervened.On 26 January 2017, the Cowdray Park Secondary pupils to collect their results.

We have to pay our teachers on the basis that they are the principle change agents in our society.

On the same day, the Cowdray Park Secondary School had become one of the latest public institutions to illegally hold on to former pupils’ academic results because of outstanding fees, despite several court rulings against the practice.ZLHR wrote to the institution’s authorities advising “We have been instructed to demand from you as we hereby do, that you release, within seven days Patience Ndlovu and Talent Chirubva as you have no legal basis to withhold same,” said ZLHR in a letter to Cowdray Park Secondary School.aged 18 years and Chirubva aged 17 years, who sat for their Ordinary Level examinations in 2015.“We are advised that the school is denying them access to their ‘O’ Level examination results/ amounts in school fees or levies,” added ZLHR.

“We would like to state that issues relating to a child’s school fees are a responsibility of their parents or guardians and children are separate individuals who should not be caught in between any disputes between the guardians and the school. belong to the children and not their guardians. have not been able to weigh their options including enrolling at tertiary education institutions of their choice without the availability of the withheld “Even in the event that there were outstanding payments to be made, it is unlawful in terms of our law to take any action against a student because of outstanding school fees. Other legal routes can be pursued against the parent or responsible person for the recovery of the amount as such we point it amounts to unlawful conduct on your part.

Your School Deputy Head seems to suggest that the school is operating on directives and was quick however want to point out that we are guided by the law on the issue which we believe does not support the school’s conduct in this instance.”In the letter, ZLHR made reference to a 2011 High Court judgment explaining the legal position with regard to holding of pupils’ results.In part the ruling reads: “When a parent and/or guardian [herein referred to as (“parent (s))”] secures a place for a child at a school or tertiary institution [hereinafter referred to as (“institution”)] a contract is entered between the said institution and the parent with regards to the payment of fees.

The said contract can either be express or implied.“The parent undertakes to pay all fees which the institution levies against the student from time to time. Failure by a parent to do so results in the institution of legal proceedings against the parent to recover the said fees. No valid legal steps or proceedings can be taken against a minor who has no contract with the institution to pay fees, to do so is an abuse of authority on the part of the institution which is an undue pressure to enforce payment of fees using pupils as prawns. This is,  therefore, unlawful.”

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