Schools in USD fees U-turn

Heritage school

HARARE – A number of private schools that were contemplating charging their fees in foreign currencies are now backtracking on the idea which could have pushed away some of their learners.

In the wake of the pricing madness that rocked the country recently, it has become fashionable for retailers to peg their prices in United States dollars to preserve value.

Private schools, which mostly cater for students from well-heeled families, had not been left out, with proposals to charge fees in hard currency tabled before parents.

But the Daily News is made to understand that this is no longer the case in some of the private schools.

Apart from fears of pricing themselves out of the market, hard-pressed parents were also threatening to take legal action against the private schools because the country’s laws still recognise the multi-currency regime in which the bond note and electronic transfers are legal tender.

To make matters worse, teachers were also beginning to demand payment of their salaries in foreign currency.

On Wednesday, Riverton School in Masvingo became one of the schools to rescind its earlier decision.

“Could you kindly be advised that the meeting which was scheduled to take place this coming Saturday has been cancelled,” an official from the school, Philemon Mutangiri, said in a letter to parents.

“The meeting was meant to engage our dear parents on the issue of top up fee, in good faith, in view of the pricing situation and scarcity of basic and essential commodities in the country.

“I, as the responsible authority, have since been proactive and procured enough food items, drugs and other essential items from South Africa to bail out the school and we should be able to get to the end of term. Parents who have already paid the proposed top up fee will have their fees credited for term one 2019,” he added.

Mutangiri said the school will not exclude or chase away students for non-payment of fees, adding that there were parents who have been defrauding the institution through fake proof of payments.

Fluctuations in prices of basic commodities, amid foreign currency shortages, have marginally increased the cost of living in Zimbabwe, thus causing food to be unaffordable even for boarding schools.

Recently, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) secretary-general, Tapson Sibanda, said it was inevitable that schools to demand foreign currency and top ups in response to the tenuous economic situation in the country.

“Schools are responding to economic detects and so we cannot say boarding schools are wrong. A school child needs to eat and government needs to respond accordingly.

“I know two or three schools that are now requesting US dollars and government cannot continue to say that the bond note and the US dollar are at par,” Sibanda said.