The Government has directed all public schools that intend to increase their tuition fees and school development levies for the 2022 first term to apply for approval from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education before making any changes.
In an interview with State media, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director of communication and advocacy Taungana Ndoro said unilateral fees adjustments by schools will not be binding on parents. Said Ndoro:
Parents and the schools must have school development plans and budgets every year. They put the budget proposals, including any proposed school fees adjustments, to a vote and they come up with a consensus on whether to adjust school fees.
They then approach the ministry with that adjustment proposal for the ministry to validate or approve that agreed position.
So what the ministry does is endorse an already agreed position between the parents and the school.
Where you have issues of parents complaining, it is either perhaps they have not attended the meeting or they were outvoted. We don’t impose any school fees structure on any school.
According to the Education Act, any tuition fees increase has to be approved by a majority of the parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than 20 per cent of the parents.
The school authorities will then present an application for an adjustment accompanied by minutes of the meeting and the school budget to the Ministry for consideration. Added Ndoro:
We cannot say we are going to adjust fees when some schools are comfortable with the school fees that was approved last time.
We look at the applications on a case by case basis. One school’s needs differ from those of the next because school development projects are different.
Some may want to build a school hall, others want to build a tennis court and others want to build hostels, so their needs are very different.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Schools Development Association/Committees secretary-general Evaristo Jongwe said the majority of parents are failing to pay tuition for their children, especially in rural and resettlement areas. He said:
The tuition fees structure is determined by an individual school’s scenario.
Parents and the school administration agree on set figures according to their needs, wants and projects for the school.
However, I must admit that parents are facing challenges with tuition fees adjustments because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, the average rate of school fees collection remains below 50 per cent and the demand for COVID-19 materials also remains a challenge.
The worst affected schools are those in rural, farm and peri-urban areas.