HARARE – Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora has said parents who are struggling to pay school fees in cash can now do so using goats.
He said schools have to be ‘flexible” and also accept labour as payment.
“On the issue of livestock, the community has to arrange a market where everyone participates; from the school authorities, local leadership and parents themselves to avoid parents being duped” Sunday Mail reported.
Last week, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said banks will now accept goats,cattle,sheep and even chickens as collateral when people apply for loans.
Added Dokora, “Our schools have to be flexible and ensure those who do not have money to pay fees can work. For example, if there is a builder in the community, he/she must be given that opportunity to work as a form of payment of tuition fees.” he added.
According to State media, several State-run primary schools in Glen View, Harare have already adopted the arrangement.
The ministry’s permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango said “Schools should not turn away pupils for not paying tuition fees. Instead, parents of the concerned children can pay the fees using livestock. That is mostly for rural areas, but parents in towns and cities can pay through other means; for instance, doing certain work for the school.
‘In terms of valuation, Utete- Masango said school heads will stand in for the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry and school development committee members for parents and “they will jointly determine the value of the livestock, and can then use the money realised to upgrade school infrastructure or help with agriculture.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general John Mlilo implored authorities to reconsider the options.
“I do not think that is sustainable with regards to parents in urban areas. This is so because due to the learner population in both urban and rural areas, so many parents have outstanding balances.
“Therefore, I am trying to imagine those 1 000-plus parents coming to work at a school. There will be commotion! Talk about self-esteem … children will be subject to ridicule and bullying, and the concerned parents themselves will not feel good about it. Why spend time doing manual labour at a school when they can go there to look for a good job?
“The assumption also is that parents in rural areas have some sort of wealth. What if they don’t? And then what? Go and work? The ministry should look for more viable options.” – The Standard