Schools forced to fork out $115 for conference

HARARE - Government has forced struggling schools to fork out $1 million towards funding the Education Conference and Expo 2017 currently underway in Harare, the Daily News can report.

Headmasters attending the expo officially opened by President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, told the Daily News that government had directed each school to pay $115 as conference affiliation fees.

Both Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora and the ministry’s permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango’s aides who answered their phones yesterday said they were busy at the conference.

But several headmasters, who spoke on condition of anonymity, complained that government is being insensitive to the plight of  schools

“It was mandatory for each school to pay the money, of which $15 was meant to purchase these shirts we are wearing, but the sad thing is that the amount did not consider the differences in the size of our schools in terms of enrolment, hence you will find that while for  bigger schools the amount is small, but for a school that has an enrolment of 200 learners who pay $20 a term, taking away such an amount form its coffers will make it insolvent,” said a rural school head from a primary school in Mashonaland East Province.

The school heads, who were clad in blue shirts emblazoned with a government badge, complained that operations at their schools would be hugely affected.

They said government should be able to fund its own programmes, noting that “they cannot want to do projects they cannot fund in the hope that schools will pay”.

“At least, in this case, they should have considered the size of schools and payment be made accordingly. However, it still doesn’t make sense given that they now control development funds through the SSF.”

Dokora has given a directive to transfer School Development Committee (SDCs) funds into the government-held School Services Fund (SSF).

Another headmaster from Mashonaland West’s Magunje district said: “Most of the schools in rural areas charge an average fee of $15 per term and with parents struggling to pay, we end up finishing the term without chalk and books for teachers to plan their work and other stationery.”

There are 9 000 primary and secondary schools in the country which are self-reliant when it comes to their basic needs such as stationary and infrastructural development.

With each school paying $115, the total amount paid to government by all the 9 000 schools will come to $1 035 000.

Last year, government established an SSF to collect both tuition fees and development levies at all schools.

Before the directive, parents deposited tuition fees and development levies in separate accounts, with SDCs largely

determining how the latter are used.

This was after  a countrywide audit by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry revealed that more than $1,2 billion in levies circulates in State-run and mission schools, with a large chunk of it being allegedly abused by heads, bursars and SDC officials.

Comments (2)

There is nothing wrong in paying the $115 . Its the headmasters who feel that the money is reducing the ammount available for them to steal from the school funds who now cry foul.

Haibo ! - 2 September 2017

What is $115 towards capacitating school leadership to deliver quality education to our children? That's a paltry figure.

Observer - 2 September 2017

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