Felex Share and Kelvin Benjamin
SCHOOLS open tomorrow amid calls by the Government for strict regulations to curb unilateral fees hikes.
Most schools applied to the Government for permission to raise fees citing rising operating costs.
The applications were turned down, but some schools increased tuition fees and levies in defiance of the Government directive.
Most such increases range between 20 percent and 30 percent.
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart yesterday said the new regulations would effectively deal with school administrators who increase fees without Government approval. He said the new regulations would give parents “more say” in the determination of fees increases.
“I am aware that most schools have done that (increased fees) but it becomes pointless to warn them each and every term without taking action.
“We are working hard, pushing for these new regulations because we
believe parents are the ones being milked by greedy school officials and as such they should play a pivotal role in the gazetting of fees at any school.”
Minister Coltart said parents should not pay additional fees without seeing a Government approval letter.
“They (parents) have a right to demand an approval letter from the headmaster because any fees approval is sanctioned by the permanent secretary (Dr Stephen Mahere).
“Anything outside that is illegal and parents should take up the matter with district and provincial officials.
“If they fail to find joy, we have an open door policy and they can visit our national offices,” he said.
Minister Coltart said the Government will reverse unapproved fees increases.
Schools like Marondera High raised fees from US$460 to US$570 per term, while Borrowdale Primary School raised fees from US$200 per term to US$250. Nyamuzuwe High School increased its fees from US$330 to US$390 for boarders.
Other schools are demanding backdated levies and tuition fees.
They are demanding first term and second term differences of between US$60 and US$100 per child.
According to the Education Act, a school raising fees must first convene a meeting with parents, present a budget to them, gain approval and then send the budget, the list of parents at the meeting, and minutes of the meeting, which include the votes, to the Ministry for approval or modification.
Usually if there is a significant majority and the budget makes sense, the ministry approves it.
Meanwhile, most parents and guardians in Harare have applauded shop owners for maintaining stability on prices of school uniforms and learning materials ahead of schools opening.
Previously, shop owners had a tendency of hiking prices for basic school requirements ahead of term openings.
A survey by The Herald last week showed that prices for school uniforms, stationery and groceries had remained stable.
“I am glad that basics for school are affordable and above all they are available,” said Mrs Mavis Matambo from Glen View.
Most parents urged the Government to ensure that transport operators do not increase fares as children go back to school.