BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI
TEACHERS unions have warned that exorbitant fees charged by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) would result in more children failing to write exams this year.
Last week, Zimsec announced that Grade 7 examination fees will be US$11 for public schools and US$22 for private schools.
Ordinary Level examination fees were set at US$11 for public schools and US$24 per subject for private schools, while Advanced Level exam fees were set at US$22 for public schools and US$48 for private schools. The exam fees are payable in local currency at the prevailing official bank rate on date of payment.
In a statement yesterday, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said the exorbitant fees would result in a further decline in the number of candidates sitting for ‘O’ Level exams because students needed US$94 000 to write 12 subjects.
“We will see a marked decline in the number of candidates taking ‘O’ Level exams in 2022. ‘O’ Level candidates declined from 332 600 in 2017 to about 240 000 in 2021. With examination fees in the region of more than US$94 000 for a student doing 12 subjects at ‘O’ Level, 2022 is likely to see a quantum leap in the decline of candidates at ‘O’ Level, and even teachers cannot afford the exam fees,” Zhou said.
He said the pegging of fees in US dollars would give the greenlight to teachers to legitimise their call for their salaries to be pegged in US dollars.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe added: “This simply means that education has been commercialised. We have actually made a lot of children fail to register for exams. Our projection is that less than 50 000 will register this year. It is actually a tragedy that government has used a neo-liberal agenda on exam fees.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: “Government should fulfil its constitutional mandate as stipulated in section 75 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe whereby it has the sole responsibility of funding basic education. We don’t expect the government to transfer this burden onto the shoulders of parents.”
Efforts to get a comment for Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro were fruitless as he did not respond to NewsDay questions.
In March, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised that primary school education at public schools will be free. He also made a similar promise in 2019, now Grades 6 and 7 pupils are expected to pay US dollar pegged exam fees as well.
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