BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA THOUSANDS of pupils and parents throughout the country are in panic mode after failing to secure registration fees for the 2022 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) examinations whose deadline is tomorrow.
Zimsec opened registration for Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations for this year from July 22 to 29 and gazetted fees that are payable in United States dollars or the equivalent in Zimbabwe dollars at a rate of US$1:$455.
Grade 7 learners will pay US$10 for all subjects, while O and A Level students are paying US$11 and US$22 for the first seven and three subjects per subject, respectively, following a 55% government subsidy for public, local authority and not-for-profit mission schools. O and A Level students will pay the full amounts of US$24 and US$48 for each extra subject thereafter.
Parents of Grade 6 pupils are also cracking their heads over the recently introduced Zimsec termly examination fees of US$5, which also benefit from the 55% government subsidy on the gazetted US$11 fee.
The registration process has reportedly been marred with chaos as some schools have been demanding payment exclusively in United States dollars, claiming that they do not have swipe machines or other RTGS payment facilities.
Some schools (names supplied) were not accepting mobile phone payments, arguing that it was taking more time for the payments to reflect in their accounts.
Teachers unions reported that some schools had set their own deadline of yesterday because they needed time to reconcile all the payments, including those that were made via bank transfers.
Zimsec spokesperson Nicholette Dlamini said the examination board would make decisions based on the recommendations from the reports submitted by the examination centres.
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“Zimsec deadlines are set with the belief that parents and guardians will meet the deadlines,” she said.
“After the set deadlines, reports will be submitted from centres along with recommendations which will inform Zimsec in order to make decisions pertaining to the registration window without prejudice to the candidates.”
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the ministry was only paying full examination registration fees for vulnerable pupils under the Basic Education Assistance Module programme.
“We have a list of pupils who are in no capacity to afford the registration fees. The ministry will provide for their full payment of the required fees,” he said.
Educationists said there was need for Zimsec to extend the deadline to give parents and guardians ample time to secure the required fees.
Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said there were fears that thousands of pupils could fail to sit for the 2022 examinations if the board sticks to the Friday deadline.
“The situation is dire as parents are failing to afford the fees. There is need for Zimsec to be considerate and extend the deadline,” Majoni said.
“That is one possible solution since the cry for the fees to be reduced was not taken heed of. The prevailing economic environment has affected consumer spending and parents are struggling to make ends meet, let alone raise thousands of dollars required for a child to register for the examinations.
“Some candidates had not yet paid their fees and schools are demanding that they clear their fees first before they can be able to register, which makes the situation even more complicated for those parents who are rushing to meet the deadline.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said most pupils were struggling to register for more than five subjects, which was depriving them their right to sit for the number of subjects they wanted.
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“There is no need to rush with the registration deadline,” Zhou said.
“Pupils need at least a month for them to secure the funds that are required. The exam fees are exorbitant and beyond affordability.
“According to a random survey that we have conducted, about half of the eligible registrants had not yet managed to register by yesterday and chances that the other half will raise the funds in two days are slim. It is clear that if the examination board sticks to its initial deadline many pupils will be left out.
“We are seeing parents who are forking out up to $83 000 for their children to register more than the seven subjects that are subsidised and it’s beyond the affordability of many.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwell Taderera said: “There is a significant number of pupils who have registered as candidates, but they have been struggling. Some are still struggling to raise the fees. Parents and guardians are not working and it is an impediment to their capacity to avail the necessary school requirements.”
Failure of pupils to register for the Zimsec examination could trigger massive dropouts, education experts warned.
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