By Vusumuzi Dube
The Bulawayo City Council has written to the Government requesting to increase tuition fees and council levy at its schools arguing the current fees were not enough for the provision of adequate and quality services.
According to the latest council report, the local authority proposed to increase its fees by up to $5, noting that would help council recover some portion of operating costs and also ensure infrastructure is maintained to cater for the high enrolment figures which are putting a strain on existing infrastructure.
At council P1 schools, which are former group A, council is proposing to charge $30 up from $25 per term while in P2 schools, which are the rest of schools in the western areas, the local authority is proposing to charge $25 up from $20.
“The additional fees on sports and textbook levies will undoubtedly help schools to run the programmes smoothly as these are remitted back to schools wholesome. During the current year council remitted $208 818 in January, $154 921 in May and $196 317 in September.
These were dependent on the number of children that had paid per school,” reads the report.
Of the new levies, the local authority has proposed that 30 percent of the collected funds be used towards the construction of new schools.
Meanwhile, the local authority has resolved to build two schools annually in a bid to reduce the primary schools backlog in the city, which has gravely affected learning especially in new suburbs. The shortage has seen some schools having up to three sittings a day to cater for the growing number of learners.
According to the report, the local authority revealed that the city has a backlog of 25 primary schools to add on to their 29 that are located in all the city’s 29 wards. Council also operates a secondary school, Mandwandwe, which is located in Nkulumane.
The local authority has since prioritised Cowdray Park for a new school as there are three council and one Government schools in the suburb.
“The City of Bulawayo’s strategic plan requires that council builds at least two schools annually to meet the needs of classroom space for the city’s residents and the growing population.
According to the town planning standards, every 500 households require a school and it is expected that no child should walk more than a kilometre to the nearest school in the city.
“Currently the city council has a total of 30 schools, 29 primary and one secondary which it runs.
The majority of these are in the western or high density suburbs of Bulawayo. Cowdray Park has four registered primary schools and three of these are council schools with one being a Government school.
The Government school has two blocks only while the council run schools have nine blocks each and an Early Childhood Development block in two,” reads part of the report.
With the three council schools taking over 2 000 pupils each the local authority noted that these are now overcrowded and that was against the principles of a conducive learning environment.
“All the council schools virtually are two schools in one. Enrolment for a standard school is 45 pupils per class, times three streams, times nine grades inclusive of ECDs, which translates to 1 215.
The schools are double or triple sessioning which is very unhealthy and not conducive for learning. The standard of education offered is thus compromised.
“The wear and tear of infrastructure, furniture and equipment is increased in such a scenario. Three or four schools are needed to decongest these schools. There are four stands currently reserved for council schools in the area.
The education section in conjunction with the town planning already visited and identified a stand to build a new school. The need for a new primary school in the area is thus warranted,” reads part of the report.
The council has already identified and serviced a site for a school that would also cater for children residing in the Hlalani Kuhle area.
According to the report, $1,7 million would be required for the project of which $1,15 million is already available after the local authority redirected funds that were meant for the refurbishment of Luveve Stadium ($500 000), Renkini Long Distance Bus Terminus ($250 000), Barbourfields Stadium ($200 000) and White City Stadium ($200 000).
The remainder would come from the $630 000 set aside in the 2018 capital budget meant for schools construction. SundayNews.