August 23, 2019

School fees now $35,000!

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Many boarding schools in Zimbabwe have increased fees for the third term
by an average of 100 percent, putting pressure on parents whose earnings have been eroded by the high cost of living. But government says it has not
approved the increases.

After enduring price increases on almost all goods and services in the last three months, parents and guardians should brace for steep hikes of fees, as
boarding schools come up with new fees structures for the third term to
hedge themselves against a rise in the cost of living.

Some parents say they will pull their children out of boarding schools due to the high fees. Many boarding schools have notified parents of their intention to raise fees and others are holding consultative meetings on the issue.

ZTN has it on record that Riverton private school in Masvingo province has increased fees from RTGS$9600 TO RTGS$35000 for secondary school, while primary school fees shot from RTGS$7500 to RTGS$26 500. Harare International School has pegged its fees between US$3500 (about RTGS$35 000) and US$27 600 (about RTGS$276 000) depending on the grade of the child.

Trust boarding schools have also increased fees. Regina Mundi High School in the Midlands has proposed to increase fees to RTGS$1 400 up from RTGS$500 while Sacred Heart Primary School in Esigodini has tabled RTGS$1 000 for fees next term. Matopo High School in Matabeleland South has increased its fees from RTGS$600 to RTGS$1300.

Goromonzi High, a government boarding school on the outskirts of Harare
has increased levy from RTGS$300 to RTGS$500 and boarding fees to
RTGS$1 100.

Meanwhile, Kutama College is holding an extraordinary general meeting tomorrow (Saturday) to come up with new figures for third term fees. The college’s fees are currently pegged at RTGS$1200.

Some schools have additional fees and these include various levies for
information technology, groceries and trips. Lomagundi College which has
tabled a proposal to increase boarding fees from RTGS$2800 to RTGS$5470
has a US$200 development and contingency levy on top of tuition fees.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education,
Tumisang Thabela says she has not received any proposals from schools to
adjust fees.

“Nothing has reached my desk in terms of applications from schools to
increase fees. They apply through provincial offices and from there the
applications come to my office. As of now, I have nothing,” she said.

She said schools that wish to increase school fees and levies should submit their applications to the ministry for approval. While schools have increased fees substantially and prices of basic commodities have shot up, salaries of many workers have remained stagnant.

A parent with a son at Kutama college said schools should find other means to generate income besides fees.

“Many boarding schools have farms, they should use them to grow their food and for livestock production to supplement fees. They should stop relying on fees for their operational expenses. Schools should think outside the box”.

Olivia Ziwewe, a parent with three children at Mhondoro Presbyterian school said she is waiting with bated breath for the school to announce fees for the third term.

“I am keeping my fingers crossed that the school will not increase fees
because if they do I will withdraw one or all my children depending on the
increase. I am a widow and I survive on selling farm produce. I hardly make enough to make ends meet,” she said.

As the third term beckons for children to return to class, anxiety is mounting, with some parents saying they have no option but to withdraw their children from boarding schools if government does not intervene.

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