Council hikes school fees

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The Bulawayo City Council, which is owed more than $700 000 in unpaid school fees, has resolved to increase the fees despite resistance from several councillors.

The councillors argue increasing fees from $20 per child each term from $15 could nurture a generation of uneducated youths in the city.

Contributing to a heated debate on proposed school fee hikes during a full council meeting on Wednesday, Magwegwe Councillor Benjamin Ndlovu said the move was tantamount to shooting one’s foot.

“Something similar happened some years back and we all know that Gukurahundi was a system that was initiated to ensure that schools were closed and Ndebeles remained uneducated,” he said.

“If we press ahead with this, after 10 years our children will be backward, underdeveloped and uneducated,” Ndlovu said.

“We should seek a solution that is informed by the situation of this city.

“There is no industry here, it has been destroyed and it has been taken to other cities.

“Where do people get the money? It is true that we need this money so that we develop, but let us not forget the situation here,” he said.

Ward 17 Councillor Ephraim Ncube concurred. “For Bulawayo to be here, there have been many councillors before who did the best they could under difficult circumstances. In that sense, this attitude of saying we will be tough on residents will not work. We can agree to press people hard, but we must remember that they have already suffered enough.

“Mr Mayor (Thaba Moyo), it should not embarrass you to talk to your people nicely, so that they will be assured that they have a City Father who cares, and with time they will start understanding and pay up,” he said.

According to the latest council report, the local authority is owed $724 374 in unpaid tuition fees for the third term at its 29 primary schools.

Schools are set to open for the first term next week.
Despite the stiff resistance, councillors adopted the resolution to increase the school fees.