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Schoolchildren face bleak second term

Some parents and guardians were yesterday making last-minute efforts to raise and deposit schools fees for their children at various banks, while also shopping for uniforms, stationery and groceries ahead of schools opening on Tuesday.

BY VICTORIA MTOMBA

But in a snap survey by The Standard in Harare yesterday, most parents said the second term was going to be tough for them. Many said they had failed to secure money to pay fees because of unavailability of cash at the banks and various other reasons associated with the deepening economic crisis in the country.

Roselyn Chinyanga, a parent, said she was yet to secure school fees for her son who is in Form One.

“We have no money. The little I got from the bank is not enough to meet our needs. I am doing my shopping today because I did not have money to buy winter uniforms,” she said.
Chinyanga said she was frantically trying to pay half of her son’s fees so that he would not be turned away when schools open.

She said most uniform retailers were selling uniforms at exorbitant prices.

Another parent said the cash crisis had made the situation worse.

“Things are not well at all. We are spending most of our time in the queue at the bank and in some instances what we are getting is not enough,” said the parent who requested anonymity.

“For some of us, we have never done bank transfers before. We heard the transfers take a bit of time to be processed.”

Association of Trust School (ATS) executive director Tim Middleton said the impact of the current economic environment would be felt by many parents.

However, he urged parents to do all they could to raise the money required for school fees.

“However, there is only a limit to what they can do, so increasingly parents are faced with no other option, but to withdraw their children from the schools,” Middleton said.

“Once faced with that choice, it appears they are left with further decisions. Once again, more parents are leaving the country for good; some are receiving scholarships from schools in South Africa; others are choosing to enrol their children at private schools with a lower fee structure; others are sending their children to mission schools; some are opting to home school their children, while others will return their children to government schools.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said it was the responsibility of government to provide a good economic environment.

“As educators, we are not happy the government is not meeting its obligation of paying salaries on time. We are worried that we have to teach children the national pledge when parents do not have money to buy uniforms, to pay fees and levies,” Ndlovu said.

“Yet the parents are required to bring their children to school and see their children reciting the national pledge and give them presents thereafter. We think that level of extravagance is not opportune at this particular point in time.”

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