|Schools, colleges fleece O, A-level private candidates|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 19:37|
THE registration for Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations has started with private candidates crying foul over exorbitant centre fees charged by some schools.
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has set 22 March as the deadline for June examinations and 10 May for November examinations.
However, schools are reportedly taking advantage of the June registration deadline to make a killing out of private candidates who want to sit for the June examinations.
Parents and candidates who spoke to Chronicle in separate interviews yesterday said schools were demanding payment of between $40 to $50 as centre fees,
while private colleges are said to be charging $60.
Although Bulawayo provincial education director Mr Dan Moyo said there was no guideline regulating the charging of centre fees, the candidates accused schools of profiteering and alleged that some officials were demanding bribes before securing places for them.
“We are very concerned about what is happening at our schools. Our children are forced to pay $40 as centre fees for registration,” fumed a parent from Luveve suburb.
“That is not acceptable especially at Government schools. This should not be taken as a fund-raising strategy because it deprives candidates of the right to education”.
A candidate who identified himself as Thando said he paid $50 to register for his A-level June examination.
“Schools are ripping off private candidates that want to supplement subjects. I paid $50 to register and I feel that is too much. What are they using that money for?” asked another candidate. A lecturer from a city college said private candidates were required to pay $15 centre fee per subject.
This means candidates who write many subjects will also pay more as centre fees.
“We are aware of this issue. Private candidates should pay centre fees as they are going to use materials from the school. I would not know how they come up with the figures and it’s best you talk to Zimsec,” said Mr Moyo.
Most schools in the city have set 17 March as the deadline for registration, arguing that the remaining days before 22 March are meant to process the applicants’ details and to submit their forms to Zimsec.
It has since emerged that some candidates want to register with private colleges as some of the centres are known for good passes.
“Certain private schools are known for producing good results and I believe that if I register with such an institution I will also pass,” said another candidate.
“I think this is the reason why colleges are overwhelmed by the applicants from private candidates. The other problem is that some Government schools refuse to register private candidates that are not former pupils”.
A school head from a local school, who also preferred anonymity, said the centre fee was meant to cover administration costs such as processing the candidates’ documents.
“At our school, private candidates pay $20 as centre fee, which is meant to cover costs of processing their papers. The $40 we hear from other schools is just too much,” said the head. The Government has maintained last year’s examination fees structure to ensure that the amount remains affordable to the majority of candidates.
Candidates pay $12 for O-level and $24 for A-level with the Government paying an additional $1 and $2 shortfall to make the fees $13 for O-level and $26 for A-level.
The fees are the same for both pupils and private candidates.
Only selected subjects such as English and Communication Skills, a compulsory subject at A-Level, have a different fee structure, as candidates will pay $22 while those doing practical subjects pay an additional $17.
Foreign candidates’ examination fees are pegged at $35 for O-level and $53 for A-level.