By A Correspondent| Two of Zimbabwe’s elite schools have been sued by parents of some aggrieved students, who have challenged their decision to withhold their Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examination results over outstanding tuition fees.
Gateway High School, which is based in Harare and Lomagundi College, which is based in Mashonaland West province, landed themselves in trouble with parents of two students, who resolved to take legal action against the two schools after they withheld Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examination results for two pupils, who sat for their Cambridge examinations in 2023, in a bid to force them to pay some outstanding tuition fees.
The parents of the two minor students enlisted the services of Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, to assist them in securing the release of their children’s examination results.
On Wednesday 7 February 2024, Chinopfukutwa filed an urgent application at Chinhoyi Magistrates Court seeking an order compelling authorities at Lomagundi College to furnish the parents of the child with his Cambridge Advanced Level examination results within 24 hours of the granting of the court order.
In the court application, Chinopfukutwa argued that the conduct of withholding the pupil’s examination results in order to force payment was unlawful and extortionate.
The human rights lawyer contended that the pupil was immobilised in planning his educational future as deadlines for applying for some programmes had already elapsed and the longer the school authorities continues to withhold the child’s examination results, the more he would be in limbo.
The application will be heard and determined on Thursday 15 February 2024.
In the case of Gateway High School, Chinopfukutwa wrote a letter demanding the release of Ordinary Level examination results for a 16 year-old pupil, who sat for her Cambridge Ordinary Level examinations in November 2023 and which were withheld because she reportedly had outstanding school fees payments.
The human rights lawyer stated that the parents of the minor child had engaged school authorities at Gateway High School on several occasions with a view to committing to a payment plan to liquidate the outstanding arrears and for them to allow their daughter to view and collect her results.
However, the results of the parents’ engagements were not fruitful because the school authorities were evasive.
Chinopfukutwa told the school authorities that the minor child cannot apply for an Advanced Level studies or plan for her educational future as she is not aware of how she performed in her Ordinary Level examinations.
Further and more disconcertingly, Advanced Level students, Chinopfukutwa said, have already been enrolled in schools across the country and learning had since started, therefore the student was losing valuable learning time owing to the withholding of her examination results.
The human rights lawyer protested against the school authorities’ conduct of withholding the student’s examination result as unlawful as it violated her right to education enshrined in section 4(1) of the Education Act, including violating the bests interests of the child, which according to section 81(1)(f) of the Constitution, she has a right to education which right the school authorities were infringing by stubbornly refusing to furnish her with her Ordinary Level examination results.
Chinopfukutwa told the authorities at Gateway High School that if they fail to release and furnish the 16 year-old pupil with her examination results, he would institute legal proceedings to compel them to release the results.