EDITORIAL COMMENT: Government must urgently address issue of increased exam fees

15 Feb, 2020 - 00:02 0 Views
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Government must urgently address issue of increased exam fees

The Chronicle

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) has increased examination fees for both Ordinary Level and Advanced level candidates. The O-Level exam fees have been increased to $190 per subject from $15 and the A-Level exam fees have been increased to  $351  per subject from $26.  

Foreign candidates will pay $443 per subject for O-level. Candidates will now be charged $228 for late entry while centres will pay $810 for late entry. 

A-Level candidates will pay $324 extra for Communication Skills while foreign candidates will pay $717 per subject. 

Closing dates for payment and submission of entries for June examinations is February 28 while closing date for November is March 27. Late entries will close on May 15. O- level pupils will pay an average of about $3 000 inclusive of centre fees. 

The Junior Parliamentarian have since petitioned Government to reduce the exam fees which they say are beyond the reach of many. The Junior MPs said many parents cannot afford the new fees which means many pupils will not be able to sit for both O and A-Level exams this year. 

They said many parents were struggling to pay $130 tuition fees per term and are now being asked to pay about $3 000 for O-level exams. 

The MPs called on the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to intervene and reduce the fees to enable pupils to sit for exams.  They said ZIMSEC by charging fees beyond the reach of many parents was infringing on the pupils’ right to education as enshrined in the Constitution. We totally agree with the Junior MPs that there is an urgent need for Government intervention. 

ZIMSEC board chairman, Professor Eddie Mwenje, said the increase in exams fees was cost driven. We appreciate that it is an expense to run an examination but it is important to consider the issue of affordability when pegging such fees. 

It is unacceptable to deny pupils the right to sit for exams after spending four or six years at secondary school. The future of pupils that fail to sit for exams is doomed and we want to implore Government to avoid such a negative development. Government has an obligation to ensure Education remains affordable to all citizens from primary school up to university or college. 

The worst affected by the new exam fees are obviously pupils from rural areas who are failing to pay the little tuition fees charged by Government schools. The situation has been worsened by the short notice given for pupils to pay the fees. 

In the event ZIMSEC sticks to the announced fees, the alternative will be to spread the payment over the year. Those pupils that completely fail to raise the fees should be allowed to sit for exams while their parents are given time to raise the money. 

We want at this juncture to once again appeal to Government to urgently address this issue.

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