The Zimbabwe Government has warned that it is going to deregister defiant private schools that are reportedly demanding ‘extortionist’ fees for online lessons during the second school term of the academic calendar already in jeopardy amid the Covid-19 induced national lockdown.
Because of the current lockdown tentatively set to end next Sunday, schools which prematurely closed and were supposed to have reopened last week, are yet to start lessons until President Emmerson Mnangagwa announces reopening dates.
Consequentially, local private schools have commenced e-learning, but parents have raised concern over the exorbitant fees being demanded, even in foreign currency, at the learning institutions.
This has seen Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema reading the riot act on the elitist schools, threatening to deregister them.
Although the private schools argue that their skyrocketed fees are meant to cover fixed costs, Mathema told journalists last Saturday that the schools now risk imminent deregistration.
“Some very high fees and levies that have been brought to my attention, including in foreign currency, appear extortionist and we should not have this in education. Section 17 of the Education Act provides for the cancellation of registration by the secretary,” Minister Mathema warned.
He also added that the private schools were bound by Section 21 of the Education Act which provides that ‘no responsible authority shall charge any fee or levy or increase any fee or levy without the approval of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’.
“What the nation has experienced recently, where such school initiatives appear to be construed as part of the second school term, with schools giving deadlines to parents and guardians for the payment of unapproved fees or levies, is not acceptable. I would want all of us to work as a team for the good of our children.”
He also highlighted that there was need for all schools to abide by the law and culture of consultation while warning that ‘no school should attract our attention by doing wrong things’.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews