Rejoice Makurira and Julia Mugadzaweta
Parents and guardians yesterday made a last-minute rush to buy uniforms and other school-related materials for their children ahead of the opening of schools today.
In Harare, it was a hive of activity in the Central Business District, where shop owners also hiked prices of uniforms to cash in on the last minute shopping by parents and guardians.
Retailers who spoke to The Herald also confirmed that they registered brisk business yesterday.
A manager at a local shop that sells uniforms, who preferred to remain anonymous said: “The opening of schools has provided brisk business for us especially on uniforms and other school-related materials.
“This is the beginning of the year and most parents also want their children to start the year with new uniforms. We have since run out of stock for some of the uniforms.”
An employee from one of the shops in Harare also weighed in saying: “We have increased prices on certain products, but since this is the last day, most parents are not bothering about prices, they are just buying. I can safely say since morning we have registered good sales.”
Parents however, expressed concern over prices of some products saying they were not in tandem with the prevailing economic situation.
They said they were finding it difficult to raise sufficient school fees before the opening of schools.
Meanwhile, at Rotten Row bus terminus in Harare, some schools were turning away pupils who failed to produce proof of full fees payment.
One parent, Mr James Chaibva, said his daughter had been turned away when she wanted to board the school bus because she had not paid fees in full.
However, another parent Mrs Edith Rwodzi said: “Cash shortages did not hinder us from paying fees. I simply transferred money from my bank account to the school account. Those who are crying are those who overspend during the festive holidays.”
Parents also expressed mixed feelings over the recently introduced electronic enrolment platform for Form One places.
Some parents applauded Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora, saying the online registration was convenient.
“The e-enrolment platform is the most effective way of securing Form One places because it removes the expenses of travelling long distances,” said Mr Lloyd Munyimi.
“The process was so easy and I did it on my mobile phone.”
The process, however, proved to be difficult for rural parents who wanted to secure places for children at schools that offer Advanced Level education.
“The network was bad in rural areas and as a result, we failed to meet the registration deadline,” said another parent, Mr David Mahachi. “I think Government should devise ways of ensuring that Internet services are easily accessible in rural areas so that we don’t feel discriminated.”