THE National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) yesterday provisionally granted private schools a fees hike of 600% for the first term that opens on Jan
NIPC chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa told a press conference in the capital yesterday that the commission had noted with regret that some schools and pre-schools had issued invoices with unapproved fees or levies in terms of the law.
“NIPC has provisionally allowed schools to charge parents at the rate 600% for term 3 of 2007,” Masimirembwa said. “For example, a school whose approved fee was $40m for term 3 of 2007 would charge $280m for Term 1 2008.”
Masimirembwa said the commission was prompted to intervene after some schools started charging fees of between $1,8 billion and $5 billion for the first term.
He said as a result of the NIPC’s intervention, the most expensive school would be charging $910 million.
“All concerned should note that the law requires the commission to approve fees and levies before they can be implemented. To this effect, all the fees and levies invoiced to parents which were not approved are void in law and should not be effected,” he said.
Masimirembwa gave the schools up to Tuesday to submit their proposed fee structures for speedy consideration by his commission.
The Association of Trust Schools (ATS) chairperson Jameson Timba last night said the association would respond to the proposed hike after consulting the affected schools.
However, he expressed concern on the delay by the NIPC to approve fee structures saying it affected planning by the schools and parents.
Timba said the ATS had not received approval for 2007 third term fees, which the NIPC used as a benchmark for the 600% hike.
“The NIPC should timeously approve fees. We are just over a week before schools open, but to date the commission is yet to consider our applications,” Timba said. “What is in place is just a provisional fee structure.”
Meanwhile, there are fears that some schools may fail to open due to a massive teacher exodus throughout the country and impending industrial action.
Secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe, said at least 25 000 primary and secondary school teachers had left the country by the end of last year.
“We will be able to ascertain the new figures once schools open but thousands left for South Africa and other countries. The situation is bad. We blame this on the government, which has perennially failed to address the plight of our teachers,” Majongwe said.
“Government’s lack of commitment towards addressing the teachers’ plight was demonstrated at the December Zanu PF extraordinary congress where there was never any mention of plans to address problems in the education sector.”
He pointed out the PTUZ was now calling for a minimum wage of $250 million per month, $156 million transport allowance and $120 million housing allowance after the previous demands made in November were not fulfilled.
Majongwe said if the new demands were not met, teachers would “definitely resort to industrial action”.