The Sunday Mail
Debra Matabvu, Carren Mushonga and Tanya Rusike
Government says all schools will open this week, including those in areas affected by Cyclone Idai.
There are also indications of high mutual understanding between school authorities and parents on fees payment modalities that do not inconvenience both parties. The beginning of the second term comes on the back of information that Government, school authorities and parents are in agreement that the value of school fees has been eroded by the current wave of price increases, but a workable solution should be devised to benefit all.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education secretary Dr Tumisang Thabela told The Sunday Mail that schools had indicated readiness to open this Tuesday.
She added that some schools, especially in Chimanimani and Chipinge, affected by Cyclone Idai, were still being refurbished, but that would not prejudice learners from taking lessons as makeshift structures were being put in place.
“We have not received any complaints, so far, and we are able to say that schools are ready for opening,” she said.
On the issue of schools seeking an increase in fees Dr Thabela said her office had not received any applications to that effect adding that the process does not entail schools dealing direct with her office.
She, however, said she was aware that some schools had made such applications which were now being reviewed by provincial offices, as per procedure.
“What I am aware of is that issues of school fees increase are still at provincial levels and we have not yet received any application, but we are aware that some schools, especially boarding, have made applications,” she said.
“But generally schools will open and we are working on ensuring that also those in Chimanimani and Chipinge open this week.”
Back to school for Chimanimani, Chipinge
Indications from Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Manicaland Province, are that all schools will conduct normal lessons this week.
Repairs for damaged schools that started early last month are currently underway with a number of alternative learning spaces being created.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has also chipped in with tents and learning materials.
To date treasury has availed $4 million towards the rehabilitation of at least 61 schools whose infrastructure was destroyed by the heavy rains that were accompanied by strong winds.
Manicaland provincial education director Mr Edward Shumba said efforts were being made to ensure that all schools in Manicaland open this week to avoid losing more time, particularly for examination classes.
“Most of the schools that were affected are in Chimanimani and these will be opening. Chipinge and Buhera also have schools that were affected, but the damage was minimal,” he said.
“Repairs are in progress at various schools and in other areas where repairs have not started, tents have been provided by United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund.
“We are also making sure that we have enough learning materials and teachers.”
School fees review, unform prices
The Sunday Mail also understands that most school development committees had submitted applications for an upward review of school fees to the Zimbabwe Schools Development Associations and Committees (ZSDA/C).
ZSDA/C President Claudio Mutasa said there were opposed to schools charging fees in foreign currency.
“We understand that most Government schools do not have foreign accounts, therefore, parents should only pay fees in the local currency or RTGS through the banks,”
Meanwhile, a snap survey by The Sunday Mail in major shops selling school-wear showed that most prices were pegged in United States Dollar or the obtaining parallel market rate in bond notes or RTGS.
Latest RTGS prices in shops such Nargaji and Bays pegged a pair of trousers between $40 and $60 while a blazer was between $100 and $200, shirt ($26), jersey ($50), a pair of stocks ($10) and a tie ($25).
Informal traders were selling a blazer at $110, jersey $40, trousers $25, shirt, $25, tie $25 and a winter set of gloves, scarf and a woollen hat was pegged at $30.
Before the price increase last year second term, a pair of school shoes was priced at $16 while a satchel was pegged at $11, with a shirt and short selling for $14, dress ($15), trousers ($20) blazer ($30), hat ($6), pair of socks ($3) and a tie $5.