PARENTS have expressed concern over some school authorities who are denying their children the opportunity to register for examinations until they have settled outstanding school fees.
This is most prevalent in towns like Masvingo, Chiredzi, Kwekwe, and even in the capital Harare where pupils who have not paid their school fees in full were being barred from registering for their examinations.
Angry parents and guardians inundated NewsDay last week with calls, complaining that their children would miss out on the deadline.
“It is not fair that my child might actually miss the deadline simply because the school authorities at Chiredzi Government Secondary School are adamant that I settle outstanding fees before registering my child,” one parent said.
Christian Secondary School, also in Chiredzi, was also reportedly declining to register pupils who have not yet paid their fees in full and many parents were left stranded as they were failing to come up with the fees in time to register their children.
“I have a payment plan with the school, but the bursar is refusing to accept money for examinations, saying I needed to settle the fees first, but I’m worried about the deadline,” another parent said.
Meanwhile, several schools in and out of Harare are still chasing away pupils who have not yet paid their fees despite a directive by the government to desist from the practice.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora is on record saying that no child should be chased away from school for non-payment of school fees.
He has said schools should instead work out a payment plan with the parents.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights also issued a statement at the beginning of this term calling on schools to be considerate and observe the rights of the children to education.
However, most schools, especially from the high-density suburbs, were chasing away pupils who had not paid their fees or had outstanding balances from previous terms.
A headmaster from a local school defended the action, saying they had resorted to such harsh measures as most “parents were too relaxed”.
“Initially, we never used to chase away the pupils, but we realised that some parents and guardians were taking us for granted. This is one way of making sure they pay up. It’s working and many are now paying up,” he said.
Reached to comment on what action the ministry would take on such school authorities, an official with the public relations office requested that the questions be put in writing and sent to the Permanent Secretary who, however, had not responded by the time of going to print.