COMMENT:More resources needed to capacitate public schools Dr Sifiso Ndlovu

COMMENTING in our story yesterday on schools demanding forex payments or using black market rates for fees, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said while private schools complement Government efforts in providing education, there is a real danger that quality education is becoming a preserve of those with means. 

He said to counter the emerging problem of private players who only want a profit, there is a need to deploy more resources towards capacitating public schools.

Isn’t he spot on?

Private schools should not be a problem at all. There must always be an option of going to a Government school with better teachers, education, and facilities than private schools.

This was the case when the country still had Group A schools. Most of these schools were better capacitated than private schools. Parents were also willing to pay more at such schools.

Allowing private players to develop schools better than our own has condemned parents to the mercy of commercial schools. Some of these schools don’t even respect our people.

Cheeky private schools are demanding that fees be paid in full in foreign currency yet the Government position is that parents or guardians are free to pay in either local currency or forex. 

The official rate is US$1 to ZW$1 207 while the parallel market rates range between US$1 to $2 000 and US$1 to $2 500.

At Falcon College in Esigodini, pupils are paying $11,3 million and the school authorities say those intending to pay in forex should contact their Harare and Bulawayo offices. Why is the forex equivalent a secret? 

“Zimbabweans have silently embraced private education which is expensive, hence this public outcry regarding the exorbitant fees,” Dr Ndlovu said. 

Primary and Secondary Education communication and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro said parents should only pay fees that have been approved by the ministry’s permanent secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela.

Now we all know that this is not what is obtaining on the ground. No parent wants to clash with their child’s school. If the ministry is serious about bringing such schools to book, they must get out of their offices and investigate.

Taungana Ndoro

Most importantly, this section of our society that is willing to pay for more than general education must be catered for. Government can re-introduce a few “private” schools at both primary and high school levels.

If parents want fancy education, give it to them. Don’t leave them at the mercy of criminal elements.

Private schools have become a law unto themselves. It is high time Government takes the competition to their doorstep.  

Quality education must never be allowed to be a preserve of those with means. Let those who want to pay exclusively in forex do so after having been provided with better options.

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