School heads have implored the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec) to open a bank account dedicated to examinations where candidates can directly deposit examination fees to save learning institutions from huge bank charges.
This comes as Zimsec has claimed that it had failed to convince treasury to exempt schools on the bank charges incurred when administering examination fees.
Schools administer the registration of candidates and writing of examinations on behalf of Zimsec and so they collect registration fees which they then transfer to the examination body.
Bank charges for all transactions are borne by the examination centres as Zimsec demands its fees in full, leaving some schools indebted and failing to implement their own projects.
This was said by school heads attending the National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash) conference in Victoria Falls.
The proposed that Zimsec can either open a bank account or leave a percentage of the fees with each examination centre to cover bank charges.
“While we appreciate that registration of candidates is our responsibility, the transmission of money from schools to ZIMSEC has become a serious expenditure on schools.
“There is also an urgent need to address this issue as schools are left financially poorer every time they collect these fees on behalf of the examination council. Schools suffer bank and transport costs for business which does not benefit them and we appeal to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and ZIMSEC to help address this nightmare,” said Nash president Arthur Maphosa who is also Gwanda High head.
He said schools, especially those in rural areas that usually use cash because of mobile network challenges which make electronic money payment methods difficult, also risk being robbed when keeping examination fees.
Maphosa said bank charges are so huge that schools eventually fail to fulfil some of their projects.
“It could be better if those charges could be taken care of by ZIMSEC. The unfortunate scenario is that those expenses are then passed on to the poor parents because schools get forced to review their fees in order to keep operating,” he said.
One headmaster said his school incurs about $500 000 in bank charges while transferring about $15 million examination fees paid by about 400 candidates.
“Is it not prudent for Zimsec to leave something for the school to cover such costs,” said a headmaster.
Zimsec spokesperson Nicky Dlamini said the examination body had engaged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for exemption of bank charges but the application had been turned down.