University students have come out guns blazing at the government’s move to allow the use of livestock as payment for academic fees.
In a press statement, Zimbabwe National Students Union Secretary General Makomborero Haruzivishe said ” as students we are deeply concerned with the government’s move to transmogrify our economy from a monetary one into a livestock batter trade economy.
“With the manner our institutions, economy and systems have been informalised by misgovernance and mismanagement this move presents potential dangers of operational anarchy in our nation,” fumed Haruzivishe.
The student leader also called on the government to provide free education as this would allow access to all citizens.
“This livestock batter trade move by government leads us to exacerbate our calls for free education as means to ensure that education in Zimbabwe is accessible to all.
“It is an established fact that students own no means of production, be it land, for mining and crop production, and more relevant, livestock keep and production. Thus, the move by the government to address the liquidity crunch with cows and goats further diminishes our hopes as students to access education,” bemoaned Haruzivishe.
Since 2011, more than 42 000 university students have had their studies disrupted through defferement, school dropouts, or denial to access educational facilities as a direct result of failure to service the very expensive cost of education.
This aggrieved stance taken by students comes when Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora told the Sunday Mail last week, “Our schools have to be flexible and ensure those who do not have money to pay fees can work. For example, if there is a builder in the community, he/she must be given that opportunity to work as a form of payment of tuition fees.
“On the issue of livestock, the community has to arrange a market where everyone participates; from the school authorities, local leadership and parents themselves to avoid parents being duped.”
The ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango added: “Schools should not turn away pupils for not paying tuition fees. Instead, parents of the concerned children can pay the fees using livestock. That is mostly for rural areas, but parents in towns and cities can pay through other means; for instance, doing certain work for the school.
“In terms of valuation, school heads will stand in for the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry and school development committee members for parents. They will jointly determine the value of the livestock, and can then use the money realised to upgrade school infrastructure or help with agriculture.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general Mr John Mlilo implored authorities to reconsider the options.