PARENTS and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have accused schools of using entrance tests as a fundraising platform through interviewing unreasonably more students than can be accommodated.
Schools around the country were charging between $20 and $200 for pupils to go through Form One and Grade One selection processes.
PTUZ Secretary-General Raymond Majongwe said it was fraudulent that schools were interviewing a lot more pupils than necessary.
“It is purely unfortunate that processes have taken this particular route. It’s unfortunate that schools have now taken to acting in this manner,” Majongwe said.
“You can have 50 places and yet 300 children will sit for the entrance exam. This is the inherent weakness of having so many centres of power. This money ultimately is never accounted for and it’s unfair on the parents.”
Parents said the move was unfair as most children normally sat for more than one entrance exam before they secured a place.
“Schools are taking entrance fees as a fundraising activity because you find that some schools invite more than double the number of pupils required for the available places,” Primrose Guta, a parent, said.
“Where does this money go? It is very unfair because you go to a number of schools before you get accepted so you can imagine how much parents have to pay before securing a place.”
Other parents said where possible, there should be measures put in place to curb such behaviour at schools so that parents were not exposed to daylight robbery.
Education minister David Coltart said schools should desist from fleecing parents by charging exorbitant entrance test fees for prospective pupils.
“We are not against entrance fees per se, but schools must never use this as a fundraising activity. If a school has entrance tests it can’t have thousands of people sitting for 60 places. That will be unfair to parents,” Coltart said.
“The charge must be reasonable and it must be in line with the actual costs of running those entrance tests.”
He said schools could not unilaterally increase entrance fees without the consent of parents.
“Schools are not entitled to unilaterally increase entrance fees. They have to bring these issues to the parent body and they will deliberate on whether there is need to raise the fees,” he said.
“If schools are unilaterally raising fees parents can take this up with the school’s parent-teacher body or take it up with the district body.”