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Govt to penalise schools that hike fees without approval

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education says it will penalise privately-run schools that increase fees and charge levies without government approval.  

School officials who choose to defy the Education Act may find themselves imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months or pay fines and those who had already effected hikes must reimburse parents immediately, directed the education ministry.

Parents have accused some private schools of taking advantage of the Covid-19 lockdown situation to hike fees, which were unaffordable for many.

The ministry’s permanent secretary, Tumisang Thabela, issued a warning to all schools not to hike fees without the ministry’s formal approval.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary, therefore, warns all responsible authorities to make sure they charge approved fees and levies. Section 21 of the Education Act (Chapter 25:04) as amended provides that: No responsible authority shall – (a) charge any fee or levy or (b) increase any fee or levy in respect of any pupil attending a non-governmental school, unless the fees or levy or increase therein as the case maybe, has been approved by the secretary,” she said.

Thabela noted that her office, shall not approve any fees or levies increases sought in respect the next term of the non-government school concerned subject to the following conditions:

“(a) the increase of such fees and levies are justified by reference to some basis other than the application of the consumer price index and (b) the proposal to increase fees or levies has been approved by a majority of the parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than 20 per centum of the parents,” she cited.

From the above-quoted sections of the Education Act, the Permanent Secretary said any fees and levies charged by all non-government schools should be approved by her office.

“It is worth noting that non-compliance with this law is a criminal offence as provided for in terms of Section 21 subsection (6) which provides that: Any person who contravenes this section or fails to comply with any notice in terms of subsection (5) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine equivalent to the excess amount charged or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such find and such imprisonment,” Thabela indicated.

It is therefore imperative that responsible authorities follow proper procedures highlighted above in increasing fees and levies, she added.

“Schools that had changed unapproved fees and levies should revert back to approved fees and levies and reimburse parents accordingly. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continues to strive to provide quality relevant inclusive equitable and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans,” said the permanent secretary.

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