The approved boarding school fees ranging from $75000 to $160000 is a cause for concern to parents, teachers and generality of Zimbabweans.
What is worrisome is that some schools seem to have developed ways of getting approval from Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education by clandestinely using attendance registers as some form of parents’ approval of atrocious school fees.
Others give three exorbitant figures and ask parents to choose when in practice parents have no choice at all. It remains baffling how Ministry officials approve 150-350% fees increase.
What is more worrisome is the fact that we have some teachers earning as little as $19000. How such teachers are expected to be motivated to teach other people’s children in schools where their own children cannot learn by virtue of their poverty remains puzzling.
Fundamentally, education is a right and not a priviledge, and at worst must be accessible and affordable. But in a situation where fees are exorbitant, and a considerable number of parents cannot afford to send their children to school, it becomes a security threat.
There is also danger of a high drop-out rate thereby creating a powder-keg for future instability in a country. The reason for a quantum leap of robbery cases by security forces in Zimbabwe is nothing other than poor salaries.
It is therefore not necessary to heap burning coals upon the heads of suffering Zimbabweans through exorbitant fees. There is urgent need for a balance sheet between exorbitant fees and workers’ salaries.
Not surprisingly teachers have long called for the restoration of the purchasing power parity of their salaries pegged at an average of US$540 as before October 2018, as well as sector specific allowances.
We have engaged parliamentary portifolio committes that have submitted sound recommendations to gvt on teachers’ salaries and conditions of service. Sadly, the recommendations are gathering dust in some offices rather that being implemented.
In a nutshell, there is urgent need to address the exorbitant school fees and starvation salaries of teachers before schools open.
Any attempt to ignore these quandaries will generate inherent contradictions and challenges to the education system in Zimbabwe, let alone industrial disharmony and lack of productivity.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou,