Outcry as boarding school fees soar
By Farirai Machivenyika and Talent Chimutambgi
Some parents are in shock after a number of schools hiked fees for next year’s first term to as high as $12 000, although Government yesterday said it had not approved any increases.
Form Ones are being asked to fork out between $10 000 and $12 000 at some boarding schools.
A parent whose child is starting Form One at St Dominic’s Chishawasha said the fees had been set at $12 200.
“Of that amount, $8 400 is for boarding and tuition fees, a deposit of $3 000 and $800 for the School Development Committee levy.
“For uniforms, we will pay US$300,” the parent said.
Other boarding schools like Sandringham have pegged fees for Form One at $11 896 inclusive of uniforms.
“Apart from the fees we will also have to buy stationery groceries and other necessities which are also very expensive, meaning one needs over $15 000 for the coming term,” said a parent whose child will attend Sandringham.
Rusununguko High School in Bromley has set its fees at $9 660 while Murehwa Mission and Msengezi are charging $3 500 and $2 500 respectively. The Murehwa Mission and Msengezi fees do not include uniforms.
A parent looking for a Form One place at Waddilove Mission said the school did not divulge the fees structure when they inquired.
“I called to inquire on the fees structure and the authorities declined to discuss the matter over the phone but invited me to the school for a meeting next week when the issue will be discussed,” said the parent.
Apart from the rising fees, parents are also facing challenges in securing places for Form One pupils with some resorting to paying bribes to corrupt school officials to secure places.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema told The Herald yesterday that Government was yet to approve any new fees structure for next year.
“As a ministry we have not decided on any proposals for next year’s fees adjustments,” said Minister Mathema.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Mr Patrick Zumbo, said the regulations were clear on how schools could increase their fees and levies.
“Schools know the recommended procedures very well in adjusting levies. They convene meetings with parents and submit the outcome of what they agreed with parents to the ministry for approval. We haven’t received any proposal from schools concerning fees adjustment for next year,” said Mr Zumbo.
Since the beginning of the year, schools have been raising their fees arguing that the prevailing economic environment required constant reviews to ensure they were adequately resourced in terms of supplies, furniture and food.
Government has advised schools to be reasonable when increasing their fees and levies, taking into consideration that parents were also facing challenges.
Parents with children looking for Form One boarding places are forced to pay the fees demanded because they will be desperate to secure places for their children.
Most boarding schools have not held meetings to discuss and vote for fees for the first term in 2020 but are just sending parents invoices with the new figures.
Parents prefer boarding schools because their children have more time to study without the hassles of catching transport or walking to and from school as well as helping with household chores at home.
Some private high schools have, however, held School Development Committee meetings and agreed to set fees for first term 2020.
One such school is the Dominican Convent High School in Bulawayo which is charging $12 500 for Forms One up to Four and $15 000 for Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth. The school said the fees should be paid by December 31 2019 in view of the inflationary pressures in the economy.
Parents were required to pay the first instalment of $3 600 by November 29 2019 and the balance of $8 900 by December 31.
“Should you find that you will be unable to continue with us, please let us know by 6 December 2019 so that we offer those who are on the waiting list. Failure to pay the initial $3 600 by the stated date will be taken to mean that you have declined the offer,” school head Sister Rose Rushwaya wrote in a letter to parents. The Herald