Schools warned over turning away pupils for non-payment of fees

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By Reason Razao

SCHOOLS have been warned against turning away pupils for non-payment of fees as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education issued a warning to learning institutions that were reportedly blocking students last week.

Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Edgar Moyo, cautioned schools while encouraging the institutions to engage parents and draft payment plans.

Responding to questions in a parliamentary session, Moyo revealed that his ministry was in the midst of charging schools that had turned away students on opening day.

“Schools are not allowed to send away students. The contract of school fees payment is between the school and the parents and not the students,” Moyo said.

“Where schools are sending away children who have not paid fees, there are penalties. The penalty is a charge that is attracted by that action. As I speak, yesterday (Tuesday) we got information that some schools here in Harare sent away children who had not paid fees and this morning our officers were in those schools where we expect charges to be preferred against the culprits.”

Zanu PF Mutasa South MP, Misheck Mugadza, queried the move by schools to demand fees payment during mid-month while arguing that parents should be given an opportunity to settle tuition.

In response, Moyo revealed that there is no law that mandates parents to pay fees on opening day while encouraging guardians whose children learn at boarding schools to cater the funds for food supplies.

“First of all, when schools open, if parents do not have the money at hand, they are allowed to make payment plans with the school authorities.

“However, in the case of boarding schools where schools supply food and other necessary requirements, we encourage parents to pay school fees before schools open to enable the procurement of supplies in bulk to sustain the students whilst at boarding facilities. However, in all cases, the policy is there.

“Parents make payment plans with the school authorities. It is also important to note that when these payment plans are made, they must also be honoured by the parents,” Moyo said.