A headmaster at Kana Primary School in Lupane reportedly turned away some Grade 7 learners who were scheduled to write their national examinations due to unpaid tuition fees.
Exams for grade seven began last week.
According to school sources who talked to CITE on the condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation, eleven students did not sit for their Grade 7 exams because the headmaster ‘evicted’ them from the school grounds.
“On Monday, we learnt that 11 learners in Grade 7 did not sit for their examinations after they were sent away for not paying school fees. We didn’t have the energy to ask the headmaster, but we knew that he broken the government’s policy,” claimed the sources.
The move by the headmaster was condemned by sources who claimed it harmed the children’s progress.
However, the school headmaster, Thomas Manda denied these allegations and insisted no learners were sent away.
“Right now, all the learners are writing their exams, no one chased away the learners. I have been writing notices to parents reminding them about payment of fees. At the moment I am now compiling the names of the village heads where these parents live so that they can take action,” said the school head in an interview.
Manda, however, added that if any learner missed their exams, it was due to their own fault and “not that they were sent away.”
He also cited that the government does not allow school authorities to chase away learners.
“There is an Education Amendment Act where the President says we should deal with the parents and not the learners. Thus, this is the procedure we are taking,” said the headmaster who claimed some individuals were lying about such to tarnish the school’s reputation.
“Parents are like that, when you tell them you are taking legal channels, they become angry instead of coming to the school to speak to authorities.”
The school headmaster added that last year, some Grade 7 learners proceeded to secondary school even though their results were still withheld at the primary school.
“They didn’t collect results due to the issue of fees but went to secondary so no child can fail to take an exam because they didn’t pay school fees,” Manda said.
“Right now, the children are writing, but there are some who are absent, they absconded on their own, having thought of that by themselves. But some parents didn’t come to us, they just became angry.”
When contacted for response, Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) spokesperson Nicky Dlamini stated they had not received an official report that learners failed to write their grade seven examination at Kana primary.
“Once learners register for an examination, they must sit for that examination,” Dlamini said.
Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro added that they have repeatedly told schools that chasing away children for non- payment of fees was prohibited.
“It is illegal to chase away a child from sitting for a ZIMSEC examination after they have paid their examination fees. That position has not changed,” he said.