Private schools hike fees, demand forex

Heritage school

MOST private schools have hiked fees citing increases in running costs, while others are demanding US dollars for levies.

In a circular to parents, Wise Owl Learning Centre said it had been forced to increase fees due to the prevailing economic situation.

“The impact of the economy has affected all of us in various ways as a nation. No sector, including the education sector, has been left out,” reads the circular to parents, warning of the increases in fees.

“With this in mind, the Board of Trustees, together with the school administrators, would like to assure you that a lot of prayer, thought and deliberation has been put in to find the best way forward to ensure the school does not lower standards of its products and services,” reads part of the circular.

Parents whose children are boarders and in secondary will have to fork out $3 200, while textbook and science levies have been set at $120 and $50 respectively, but to be paid in hard currency.

For boarders doing Advanced Level, fees will now be $3 500 while textbook and science levies are US$150 and US$50 in cash.

A parent whose children attend Heritage Primary School said the fees were unchanged at $2 100, although the institution was now demanding US$150 to “balance their books” and US$25 for ICTs.

Masaisai Primary School has increased its fees from $700 to $950, while Brynston Primary School has given parents an option to pay in either Bond notes or US dollars.

Those paying in US dollars will fork out $265, which shoots to $800 in Bond notes.

Another parent whose children attend Westridge Primary School said the fees were unchanged at $1 500.

He said they were consulting the Government to raise the fees because of rising costs.

Riverton Academy in Masvingo was forced to drop its demand for fees in hard currency earlier this month following an outcry from parents.

The school had sent out a circular with a fee structure ranging from US$300 to US$2 000 depending on class level.

The school fees hikes come in the wake of huge escalations in prices of commodities ahead of the Christmas festive period, including school uniforms, exercise books and school trunks.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima could not be reached for comment yesterday. He is on record as saying it was illegal for institutions to demand payment of school fees in foreign currency.

In a circular to principal directors, head of office directors, provincial education directors, primary and secondary school heads, teacher associations and trust schools last week, Secretary for the Ministry Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela said schools must seek approval from the ministry before raising fees.

“Statutory Instrument (SI) 1597A of 2007 gives the official requirements for the approval of fees. It recognised that the level of fees and levies charged reflect the economic environment and in the case of some schools, significant revenue is required following the withdrawal of the Government Teachers Grant to schools that previously received them,” the circular read.

“In light of the above, schools that wish to increase fees and levies need to submit their applications to the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education and approval has to be received by the schools before any increases are effected,” it said.

“In order for the secretary to appreciate the basis upon which the levies are calculated, schools need to submit, together with the application, the following: current audited accounts, minutes of a properly constituted meeting of no less than 20 percent of the school parents’ assembly, proposed budget.”