SEVERAL primary schools across Zimbabwe are threatening to withhold Grade 7 results — expected to be released soon — for pupils whose fees are in arrears.
Parents who spoke to NewsDay during the weekend said the school authorities had issued warnings that they would not release results for their children if they did not pay fees in full.
A primary school in Dzivaresekwa, Harare, summoned parents to a meeting over fees arrears recently.
“The school development association said that all pupils who haven’t cleared their arrears will not be able to get their results when they come out. We are opposed to that arrangement,” one parent, who requested anonymity, said yesterday.
The parents, however, called on the government to intervene since most of them were struggling to raise the money required due to economic challenges in Zimbabwe.
“The issue of fees is not the parents’ problem because most of them are struggling to make ends meet, while the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) is taking too long to settle the fees,” they said.
Schools have also been accused of increasing fees arbitrarily during school terms.
Other parents who spoke to NewsDay also confirmed that the challenges were not peculiar to the Dzivaresekwa school.
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“This is a problem which is being faced by many parents and guardians and could affect thousands of learners who will be making the transition to secondary education.
“This is also going to affect the children who will have a short period of time between the period they receive their results and schools opening on January 9 next year.
In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education secretary Moses Mhike condemned the stance taken by school authorities and encouraged parents to report the cases to their nearest education centres.
“The laws and policies are clear on these issues. We do not want any child to be denied their examination results over fees. We condemn, in the strongest manner, the withholding of results because of fees arrears,” he said.
“It’s a big no! We want to know from the people where this is happening and we have said to parents and stakeholders we have opened centres close to them so that they can report such threats.”
Mhike said the government was ready to dispatch inspectors to schools identified in these allegations.
“We have distributed circulars and policies to the schools that need to be followed in the schools across the country,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said withholding results was illegal and unacceptable, adding that schools should be paid by government for students under Beam.
“The duty of paying school fees is on the shoulders of the government, not learners. Schools should not withhold results but engage governors seeking tuition grants as is provided for by the law,” he said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association acting secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said: “The schools that will refuse to give the learners their results will be in contravention of well-known government policies and heads of schools are very much aware of that.”
Taderera said school heads were ignoring the fact that the payments are supposed to be made by the government for students under Beam.
“It may be just a question of them (schools) ignoring that standing policy. However, it is also caused by the government which makes pronouncements that make parents not to pay fees. Schools then resort to denying learners their results in a bid to try and force the parents to pay for them to collect the results.”
Zimbabwe School Examinations Council spokesperson Nicky Dlamini yesterday told NewsDay that marking of the examinations had begun and the results are expected to be released within a month.
“Our position has always been that once a candidate pays examination fees, it means s/he is supposed to write the examination as well as get the results,” she said.
“If there are schools with that intention, we refer them to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, which is the custodian of schools.
“Otherwise results as usual when we publish, we store and publish on our online platform and every candidate will be able to access their results.”