The recently announced fees pegged US$22 at Grade 7, US$24 per subject at ‘O’ level and US$48 per subject at ‘A’ level, are not only exorbitant and unjustified, but also callous, punitive and a monument of Zimbabwean injustice. At any rate they are not different from the recently social media peddled exam fees except that the latest exam fees are in US$s. With the current US$ exchange rate sky rocketing even in official exchange rate, there is no doubt that by the due date of exam fees, 22 July 2022, US$1 could be more than $500. With such exorbitant exam fees, there is little doubt, if any, that many candidates from poor families would not be able to pay the fees. For political expediency gvt purports to pay part of the fees, when it is common knowledge that it doesnt pay Zimsec any examination fees. At any rate the exam fees would be paid over a short period of time (22-29 July) an issue that would also affect the number of candidates that are likely to register at ‘O’ level.
We have also witnessed a quantum leap of the decline of ‘O’ level candidates from more than 332000 in 2017 to about 240000 in 2021. With the exorbitant examination fees in forex, the number of candidates is likely to drop to less than 200000.
The pegging of examination fees in US$ is further justification to teachers’ call for the restoration of their purchasing power parity of their salaries at US$540 as before October 2018. The gvt of Zimbabwe must mellow down to a more constructive approach permeable to reason and facts. This is the same gvt that promises free education every election time, only to betray this noble promise after elections. Gvt must realise that children are the best asset that a nation has and therefore invest in quality public education, including writing of examination by majoritarian students. We cannot pride in cold and calculated educational vandalism, in which education has become a preserve of the rich, and neither can we pride in high drop out rate of children from schools that is certainly a time bomb. Education must remain a vital cog of our communal and national development, and so likewise must be prioritisation of paying teachers a living wage.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, Ptuz president.