THE Government has warned private schools who are violating monetary regulations noting that they were trading on thin ice and could easily lose their operating licenses.
This comes after Bulawayo based Whitestone School has proposed the payment of top-ups from parents who had paid school fees for their children in local currency.
The school had, at the beginning of the term pegged their fees in foreign currency with parents however, having the option to pay in local currency as per the prevailing auction system rate. ]
According to a circular from the school’s board of trustees, parents with children doing ECD-A are required to pay a top-up of $107 250, ECD-B; $135 300.
Sources revealed when schools opened the fees were pegged at US$1 350.“The Board of Trustees met on 23 September 2021 to review the financial performance of the school and to discuss additional fees necessary to run the school until December 2021.
Given the significant inflationary pressures in the economy it is apparent that the school will not be able to operate efficiently to the end of this cycle at the current fee levels.
“Your board is however, cognisant of the impact of the same economic pressure on parents’ incomes and businesses alike and in light of this, the board has tried to keep the increase in school fees to a minimum…As previously advised in our Cycle three Circular of 18 August 2021, the top-up fee will only be for those accounts where parents have settled the initial deposit in ZWL,” reads the circular.
Despite the school claiming that this was thus far a proposal, they offer an early settlement discount to parents that settle the top-up by 15 October.
“An early settlement discount of 35 percent on the top up is offered should payments be received by Friday 15 October 2021. If you wish to take advantage of this early settlement discount offer, the discounted amount to be paid by you will be; ECD-A $16 900, ECD-B $21 320 and Grades 1 – 7 $35 100. If you are interested in the discount, please ensure that this amount is credited to the school bank account no later than Friday 15 October 2021. For those parents who have paid the initial deposit in ZWL who may wish to settle the top in USD please contact the Accounts office for assistance,” reads the circular.
In the circular, the board of trustees noted that since parents cannot physically meet they can contribute towards the proposal via postal and online voting.
However, parents have raised a red flag over the voting system noting that this could expose their children to victimisation if they voted against the proposal.
“The whole system has discrimination written all over it, they claim it’s a proposal but in all honesty it is far from that besides the money we paid at the beginning of the term was equated in the auction system rate, why should we be paying these top-ups. Further, if I vote against this proposal what stops my child from being discriminated because the ballot form required us to state the names of our children,” said a parent who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Contacted for comment, Director of Information and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro warned the school saying not only was this illegal but could also result in the school losing its operating license.
“This is very much illegal as this school could be violating a number of monetary exchange laws to add on to violating set laws governing the operation of schools in the country regarding the charging of school fees. What I must emphasise especially to private schools is that they should at all times be guided by the laws of the country rather than do as they will,” said Mr Ndoro.