By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has insisted parents and guardians of school going children should not be forced by authorities to buy uniforms from schools.
Minister Mathema said in a statement if parents felt the prices demanded by schools for the purchase of uniforms were too high, they were free to try other alternatives including making the uniforms themselves.
His remarks follow an outcry among Zimbabweans, prices of uniforms and other school requirements had shot through the roof ahead of schools opening for the first term this Tuesday.
Amid the chaos, school authorities have been accused of forcing learners to buy expensive uniforms at the premises or from contracted agents.
“It has come to the attention of the ministry that some heads of schools are not heeding the directive by secretary for primary and secondary education that parents have a right to purchase school uniforms to best advantage and are insisting that uniforms should be purchased only at school,” Matema said in a statement Saturday.
“This again is totally unacceptable and has the potential to unjustly increase the cost of education for parents and guardians.
“For the avoidance of doubt, pursuant to the need to promote access to education for all, parents, guardians, and learners shall be allowed to purchase school uniforms to the best advantage.”
He added, “Schools submit the requirements to parents who will procure the uniforms from the best quotation they can get, those with capacity to make their own uniforms are encouraged to do so.
“All Heads of Schools are enjoined to ensure good governance and transparent, corrupt-free process in the management of schools and the procurement of school uniforms by parents and guardians.”
The Minister also urged schools to build factories which could allow them to produce affordable uniforms for their students.
“I want to know how much land each school has so that they can make use of the land and build factories where they will be able to manufacture their own uniforms.
“We want each school to produce its own uniform so that parents won’t be charged exorbitant prices by retailers,” he said.
A snap survey by this publication shows that a Form One scholar at Prince Edward High School in Harare got a quotation of $5 860 at uniform seller ENBEE.