Right to education remains a mirage

EDITORIAL

IN what has become more of a ritual at the beginning of every term, some schools have started sending pupils away over unpaid fees.

This is a sad development in view of the fact that school fees, just like other services, have skyrocketed, while salaries have remained stagnant, and others even eroded as
Zimbabwe’s surrogate bond note chases the elusive United States dollar value.

While it is understandable that schools need to meet certain costs if they are to remain viable and continue to offer quality education, there is need to strike a balance
and come up with payment plans to allow hard-pressed parents to pay perhaps in instalments throughout the term while children are in school.

This will ensure that education, which is a constitutional right of the child regardless of whether or not their parents can afford it, does not become a preserve of the
elite.

Everyone is aware of the economic meltdown that has significantly eroded the value of the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar, so there is no need to be punitive.
Parents also need some form of economic reprieve.

It is the desire of every parent to ensure that their children go to school and access education, so there is no need for schools to behave as if they are not operated by fellow human beings who also have children.

Parents are being forced by circumstances beyond their control to cut back on other essential services so that they can educate their children despite the ballooning cost
of living.

Remember parents also have to buy other educational materials such as textbooks and pens, whose prices have also ballooned alongside those of other basic goods and
services.

Having said this, it is important to acknowledge that the government is duty-bound to ensure that it puts effective economic policies in place to ensure that education does
not become a luxury, but remains the basic right that it is.

The disparity between the US dollar and the RTGS dollar, in particular, has caused untold mayhem because it is an unsupported currency that has proved to be unsustainable.

The school fees debacle is just a tip of the iceberg pointing to an entire economy in a mess, given that the teachers are also disgruntled amid indications that they may embark on a go-slow or full-scale industrial action as price increases continue to erode their RTGS-denominated salaries.

The challenges that have come with the surrogate currency also extend to medical aid and funeral policies whose contributions have also been arbitrarily increased, leaving
the majority of workers with very little disposable income.

The government cannot continue to ignore the need to adopt holistic and genuine currency reforms, as continuing on this trajectory will likely cause an implosion or
catapult us back to the horrors of 2008.

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