BCC owed over $219m in school levies

BULAWAYO City Council

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) says it is owed over $219 million for the second-term tuition fees and levies.

According to the latest council minutes, Housing and Community Service director Dictor Khumalo reported to the health, housing and education committee that “the total enrolment at all 31 council schools stood at 44 749 learners.”

During the term $83 880 034 was paid for tuition and council levies while $219 062 674 remained outstanding.

“The council received $6 170 722 for Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) learners at six schools and $342 888 was payment for shortfall/previous terms. Meanwhile, $96 389 435 was outstanding at all 31 schools. It was noted that the Beam shortfall was necessitated by a fee increase which came into effect in the second term of 2022,” Khumalo noted in the minutes.

The minutes noted that the department was concerned about the debt, adding that parents and guardians were struggling to pay.

“The department and heads of schools were constantly urging parents to pay their dues and honour their promises,” the minutes read.

Councillors expressed concern about Beam beneficiaries who were being asked to pay top-ups without the knowledge of schools development committees.

“Councillor Lilian Mlilo sought clarification on how Beam beneficiaries would be treated in the event that payments were made late. She also noted that there was corruption in the identification of Beam beneficiaries,” the minutes read. Councillor Mlandu Ncube noted that council had no policy on free education for vulnerable children. Such a policy was needed, he added, noting that council had no control over the identification of Beam beneficiaries.

Khumalo said the concerns would be looked into.

“Top-ups were necessary at times given the financial positions of the schools. The role of council in schools management is to provide infrastructure, grounds staff and bursars while the government provides the teaching staff. The new curriculum does not allow school management to send back home students for non-payment of school fees,” he said.

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