Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo

THE Government has approved an increase in boarding school fees following proposals by school authorities as a result of an increase in the prices of basic commodities.

In some schools boarding fees have been hiked by nearly 100 percent from what parents were paying in the third term last year.

Schools such as John Tallach High School, Hlangabeza High School and Sacred Heart High School are among the schools that have hiked their fees.

Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Cde Edgar Moyo yesterday told The Chronicle that the Ministry approved boarding fees hikes after considering push factors in the economic environment.

“Basically the issue (boarding fees hike) has been necessitated by escalations in the market and the schools considered that they might not be able to sustain themselves with the old budgets,” said Cde Moyo, adding that the fees hike should not make education exclusive for some learners.

“However, fees should not be a barrier to education. As much as possible we must charge what is affordable to a targeted community. We should not create schools that are exclusive and at the end of the day create a huge barrier to access to education.”

Cde Moyo said schools followed all the necessary procedures before their budgets were approved and parents were consulted before the new fees were approved.

Government’s policy states that 20 percent of parents should approve fees hikes before they are adopted.

“The policy states that the fees hike depends on approved budgets by the parents as presented by the School Development Committee (SDC) and the head. The SDC and head invite parents and make their proposals and context in which they are making the proposals and debate that issue. They might adopt what the leadership proposes or modify what is presented to them,” said Cde Moyo.

“The minutes of the meeting are compiled and the proposed budget showing escalation levels and the justification for the increase. The details are sent to the District Schools Inspector who makes his or her input before sending them to the province who will make their input before sending to the Permanent Secretary for approval.”

However, some parents decried the fees increase in the middle of the term saying it was disruptive to their planning and budgeting.

They said although they understood that it was necessary for boarding schools to increase fees due to the rising cost of living, they now face more constraints.

A parent with a child at John Tallach High School said the boarding fees was increased by almost 100 percent and she is struggling to raise the fees at short notice.

“Although I understand the need to increase the fees, it comes as a blow to me as I don’t know where I will get that money. Its mid-term and the worst part is that I didn’t get a pay rise at work,” said the parent who preferred not to be identified.

Another parent who only identified himself as Mr Sibanda with a son learning at Hlangabeza High School in Nkayi said he did not expect the fees would almost double.

“The school hiked the fees to $805 from $400 and are already demanding payment. Where will I get that money from? Things would have been better if they had increased the fees at the beginning of the year and we could have come up with payment plans,” said the parent only identified as Mr Sibanda.chronicle