Despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe Government issuing warnings that it will soon viciously descend on defiant schools pegging ‘extortionist’ fees for online lessons, some private schools are reportedly demanding as much as US$1000-plus for the Covid19 induced virtual learning process.
The schools now risk being deregistered the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education after Minister Cain Mathema recently announced that the educational institutions defying the government directive could be slapped with far reaching punitive measures.
Some private schools have since introduced what they term ‘overhead fees’, like Gweru-based Midlands Christian Group of Colleges (MCGC) and Treasure Trove (TT).
Parents can alternatively pay the unjustifiably exorbitant ‘overhead fees’ using the local currency at a foreign exchange auction rate of ZWL$83,40 to the United States dollar, according to the current auction rate.
At MCC, the overhead fees stand at US$1,410 while the same costs US$910 and US$400 at MCS and TT respectively.
However, MCGC principal director Pastor Daniel Pswarayi said they were yet to agree on overhead fees as discussions on the matter were yet to be conducted.
“Discussions are underway over the matter and therefore these figures are still provisional pending finalisation,” said Pastor Pswarayi.
Elite educational institution, Petra College in the second city of Bulawayo has also been demanding US$1,400 in overhead fees, an issue which has irked many parents.
Reports suggest that Girls College has also been charging a ‘levy’ of $83 000, which translates to US$1,000 using the current interbank foreign exchange rate.
Edgar Moyo, who is deputy minister of primary and secondary education recently warned that Government was going to hold investigations to ascertain the private schools charging ‘extortionist’ fees for online lessons.
His superior, Minister Mathema hinted that they were going to deregister the concerned private schools as punishment for the ‘defiance’.
Schools in Zimbabwe prematurely closed doors on March 24 due to the coronavirus scourge- a shy four days after the country recorded its first Covid19 positive case.
Prospects for the schools’ reopening have been halted by the palpable fear of exposing the learners to the virus and the learning institutions remain indefinitely closed until further notice.
On Monday the Government also dismissed as ‘misleading’ rife social media rumours insinuating that the opening of schools had been scheduled for September 2, 2020.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews