SCHOOLS are not allowed to bar children from class for nonpayment of fees and parents that fail to send their children to school are violating the law, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has said.
Dokora told Senate last week the government had realised that school development associations (SDAs) were in the forefront of expelling pupils and his ministry was in the process of crafting a policy to empower headmasters to override such interference.
His comments followed reports last week that some schools in Gwanda were barring children, especially beneficiaries of the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), from attending lessons due to non-payment of fees.
In the Senate, Dokora was asked to spell out government’s position on the expulsion of children whose parents fail to pay fees on time.
“As a ministry, we do not allow any child to be turned away from school because school fees has not been paid,” he said.
“School fees are paid by the parents and not by the child.
“What this means is the school heads and the parents should discuss the issue of school fees and leave the child out of this issue.”
Dokora said school heads blamed SDAs for the continued barring of pupils for non-payment of fees.
“Their plea is, SDAs are responsible for firing children from school and not the heads of schools,” he said.
“As a ministry, we are formulating a regulation policy which will empower the school heads so that they may be able to override the powers of the SDAs.
“In a case where there is a misunderstanding between the SDAs and the head, the latter finds themselves powerless.”
The minister said the government recognised that basic education should be compulsory and would be working to ensure that the law is respected.
“Our Constitution says compulsory basic education should be accessed by all the children of Zimbabwe.
“Generally, what this means is, if you do not send your child to school, that will be committing a crime.
“This is explained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution and in this chapter, we put all our expectations regarding education and we think that as time goes on, we will be able to formulate policies with regard to our education system.
“So far, we have not yet put these into law.
“We hope that, as time goes on, we will be able to raise enough funds to pay for the children’s school fees, uniforms and teachers’ salaries.
“What we know is that parents are keen to have the best education for their children.
“As a result, we cannot stop them from paying school fees for their children.”
BEAM is facing serious funding problems.