GWERU: While parents are happy that their kids finally went back to school after a very long break, they are also elegiac over the increase in school fees for the long second term, which is scheduled to end in December.
Most children who had not paid their fees were turned away on the first day of the opening and the chomping goes on weeks after.
Recently the government gave a green light to increase fees that will see some classes paying an extra 33% to cover for extra days.
The normal school calendar for the term is 60 days but for this term, it will be 80 days to cover up for the time lost during the level 2 lockdown. However, most pupils are learning only five days in 2 weeks.
A Mkoba ST Paul’s parent who refused to be named said the fees increase presents a hard time for them since most jobs were affected by the lockdown.
“Children who have not paid up fees are being turned away from school. Remember our jobs were affected by lockdown. It is not easy to get the money, if they can allow us to make payment plans that will help,” she said.
Mandie Sithole, a Chikumbiro Primary School parent said despite turning some students away, children are still not learning at schools.
“My son goes to school in the mid-morning at 11:30 am and knocks off at 3 PM, but they are not given homework at all to cover for time. Teachers are doing this deliberately at the expense of our children,” said Sithole.
Meanwhile, the Advocacy and Communication Officer in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said the emphasis was on fees approved by the Ministry to factor in an extra charge.
“Schools cannot just come up with their figure to factor in the pro-rata formula, but they use figures which have been already approved, “said Ndoro.
Recently, the Primary and Secondary Education Secretary is on record urging schools to stop sending students away from school but should agree on terms with the parents.
Some activists have warned about the proliferation of school dropouts if the fees are too high for parent’s reach.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hard hit on the education sector and has brought many compromises to the learner’s right to education.