IT was a hive of activity for boarders across the country yesterday as they returned to their schools for the third term that starts today.

Pupils and a representative of national school heads said they were ready for the new term which will see Grade 7s, Form 4s and Form 6s sitting for their public examinations from next month.

However, as learners went back to school, some schools were turning away those without full fees, with a representative of Serima High School demanding that all learners boarding the hired Zupco bus in Harare yesterday should advise parents that did not pay full fees to call the bursar and make arrangements.

While public schools cannot bar pupils who have not paid tuition fees, boarding schools can insist that boarding fees are paid, or that satisfactory arrangements have been made, since food and other requirements must be bought. Private schools can bar non-payers.

In an interview yesterday, National Association of Primary Heads chairperson Mrs Cynthia Khumalo said it was all systems go.

“We are ready to resume classes, there are no problems. It’s game on; we are ready,” said Mrs Khumalo.

“Challenges will be found here and there. Currently we need more teachers to be employed and we have been promised that more teachers will be recruited.”

Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads secretary Mr Munyaradzi Majoni said they were ready to go back to school and promised that the schools will deliver.

“We are ready to go back. The commitment is there, we are going to put our best effort in our work. Our role is to supervise the teachers so we are going back to supervise them,” he said.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro yesterday said the school system was ready for the final school term of the year.

“Schools are ready to resume classes, and examination class teachers are ready as well to prepare their learners for the end of year examinations. The shortage of teachers in some schools is being handled.

“The Public Service Commission is recruiting more teachers. The process is ongoing and soon more teachers will be employed and join their colleagues in schools.

“On school fees, the law is clear, we are using the multi-currency system and parents are free to use a currency of their choice,” said Mr Ndoro.

But some parents are finding boarding fees a problem at some schools.

A parent who declined to be named whose child learns at Mavhudzi High School, said: “My child is in Form One at Mavhudzi High School. I want my child to continue with her education there but I cannot afford to pay US$390, which they require for a pupil to get onto the bus.”

A parent from the same school, Mrs Besta Chigezero, said she had struggled to pay the fees as well but had eventually managed.

“Things are not too well for us. We are struggling to raise the school fees, but we are thankful that we finally managed to pay and the children have gone back to school. We just want the teachers to be committed to their work so that our children attain good results,” she said.

Mr Tichaona Mangene, whose child learns at Serima High School, said he was prepared due to flexible payment plans approved by the school.

“I was well-prepared. Sometimes you have to overlook other things and commit yourself to the most important thing. It’s a sacrifice, you have to work hard and pay the fees.

“The school offers a conducive environment for everyone. We pay US$125 and pay the balance in local currency to make it US$350. We appeal to teachers to continue with their hard work,” he said.

Another parent whose child learns at St Benedict High said sacrifice was needed for parents to ensure children access good education.

“We are prepared. If you want things to happen, you sacrifice and manage your funds so that your children have access to good quality education,” he said.

Patience Mupudzi, a Form 4 learner at Mavhudzi High School, said she had prepared well for examinations.

Ryan Manyika from the same school said everything was in order and he will make his parents happy with good results.

“I am happy we are going back to school. I just hope that I am going to make it and be a better person with the guidance of my teachers,” he said.

Two pupils from St Benedict High School, Tapiwa Muponda and Tatenda Koronga, said they will work hard in the new term to prepare their future.Herald