HARARE - With hundreds of students in the country failing to access their results, as they have outstanding fees — the move by the government to increase “O” Level examination fees and proposals to make parents contribute, at appropriate Grade levels, towards the running of Grade Seven examinations — has been described as heartless.
Zimbabwe rights groups say the move is a violation of the Constitution but the government insists that Zimsec needs funding to run the exams.
The government increased the Ordinary Level examination fees from $13 to $15 while Advanced Level fees remained at $26.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora announced recently that the government was also considering that parents contribute, from the appropriate Grade level, towards the running of the Grade Seven examinations.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) director Okay Machisa said government seems to be taking a blind eye to the plight of parents, who can hardly afford to feed and clothe their children.
“We are talking about children who sometimes go to school without shoes or food in their stomachs — how does the government expect their parents to pay the exam fees,” Machisa said.
“It is with great disappointment that a whole cabinet chaired by the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe sat and resolved to violate the provisions of our Constitution by introducing grade seven exams fees as well as increasing “O” Level examination fees beyond the reach of struggling parents.”
“These policy makers do not have the people at heart, it’s a dream to have free education in Zimbabwe,” he said.
In line with the Millennium Development Goals, Section 27 of the Constitution on education states that: (1) The State must take all practical measures to promote: (a) free and compulsory basic education for children.
Section 75 (1) further provides that: every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic State funded education, including adult basic education. (4) The State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right set out in subsection (1).
Section 81 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that: every child that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years has the right to free education.
Machisa said there were even willing to take the fight to the streets, through peaceful demonstrations to try and knock sense into the policy makers.
“We are going to embark on a ‘No’ campaign, where we will have various strategies including meeting with the authorities, to knock sense into them, and talk with parliamentarians and join forces with other unions, even hold peaceful demonstrations if need be,” he said.
“Much is needed to be done in Zimbabwe to improve the education system. There is no life without education. Education must be a right not a privilege. ZimRights condemns the introduction of fees and its increase as it is a serious disregard of the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“We are also advocating for a change in this western curriculum that puts the fate of children in two-hour examinations,” Machisa said.
Zimsec director Esau Nhandara told a parliamentary education and culture portfolio committee, that the council has been having difficulties running the Grade Seven examinations because of limited resources.