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Parliament to engage Ministry over Term 2 school fees demand

By Nqobile Tshili

Parliament will engage the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education over public schools demanding fees payment for Second Term despite the fact they have been closed since March.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga

Private schools opened on Monday for Cambridge sitting examination classes while Government schools will open on September 28.

Parents who participated in Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) education symposium in Bulawayo yesterday raised concerns on the conduct by the schools.

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The symposium was attended by provincial education directors (PED) for Matabeleland region, although they not were given a slot to present, learners, parents, teachers unions and civil society organisations.

The parents said schools were also demanding funds for personal protective equipment (PPE) before schools reopen yet Government made it clear that it would provide PPEs for learners.

Government has released $600 million to prepare schools for safe reopening on September 28 for examination classes.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education chairperson Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who participated in the engagement, said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education needs to explain why public schools will still demand fees payments when learners were at home.

She said there were several issues that were raised including how schools in Bulawayo will cope with 144-hour water shedding exercise.

“We haven’t engaged with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, there is going to be extensive consultations. there are people telling us that there is no running water in schools, parents are being asked to pay fees for First Term, Second Term and Third Term.

“They are telling us that they are being asked to pay stationery fees, so when we meet with the minister, we want to put these questions to them so that they can then explain to us,” she said.

Mrs Misihairabwi-Mushonga said issues to do with access and digital divide that are depriving learners their right to education need to be addressed.

“I’m very concerned particularly because I’m coming from this region, I’m concerned because of the haves and have-not. I’m concerned about children who are coming from Bulawayo who are saying they have not even engaged in e-learning,” said Mrs Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

“We are happy that the teachers are here and we want them to explain what they are going to do with the syllabi.

“The learners have lost more than two thirds of the school calendar and how are they going to ensure that the syllabi are going to be long enough. if the classes are not going back in 2020 what does it mean for 2021.

“All those logistics need to be clarified. I think there is just too much confusion in the children, the parents and the teachers that needs to be clarified.” The Chronicle