SCORES of student teachers who failed to pay first term fees at the United College of Education (UCE) in Bulawayo have had their courses deferred to next year despite the acute shortage of trained teachers in Matabeleland.
BY OWN Correspondent
According to students who spoke on condition of anonymity, their principal was uncompromising and their fate had been sealed.
The college expected students to have paid their fees by January 31 this year and did not entertain any payment plans past that date.
UCE principal, Adam Luthuli refused to answer questions in relation to the matter and referred further questions to the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry.
“Are you suggesting that our ministry does not know what is going on? Ask them,” he said.
A student said he had been asked to write and sign his deferment letter after failing to raise the required fees.
“Those that had not paid by the end of January face the same fate,” the dejected student said.
He said he did piece jobs to help his single mother pay fees, but last December holidays had not been easy as jobs were scarce.
“I do menial jobs like cutting grass and working in gardens to help my mother pay my fees. There was little disposable money in December and I did not get many jobs.”
Many students from different institutions of higher learning have deferred their courses countrywide after failing to raise fees.
“But as regards teaching, it’s a service course and there is a general shortage of Ndebele-speaking teachers in the country which needs to be corrected such that UCE administration should play a role,” another student said.
In the past, student teachers received payouts from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), which were discontinued a few years ago.
Senior government officials including former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo have been accused of looting Zimdef funds for personal gain.
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered.