Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
NO private school has been granted permission to charge fees for online lessons as virtual learning does not translate to the start of the second term, an education official has said.
Government is making plans for schools to open for examination classes and says no school has been authorised to charge fees yet, even for online lessons in terms of the Education Act.
Some private schools are charging deposits of between $14 000 and $30 000 insisting that they will be teaching pupils online.
The schools are threatening parents that if they do not pay, the fees will be adjusted according to the foreign exchange fluctuations based on the parallel market.
The schools are also excluding pupils whose parents or guardians have not paid fees from online learning.
Some parents have expressed concern that while they are made to pay exorbitant amounts for online lessons, they have to buy gadgets and data to enable their children to access the online content, putting the cost of education beyond their reach.
Bulawayo Provincial Education Director (PED) Mrs Olicah Kaira said some private schools had applied to conduct online lessons but pledged to do so freely.
“All the schools are telling me that online lessons are for free, especially Google-Classroom. Everyone is saying it is for free. Christian Brothers College (CBC), Girls College, Petra schools say no child pays for Google-Classroom. That is what we have been made to understand,” she said.
“Those who want to conduct online lessons and demand fees payments, they all know that they must be given permission by the Permanent Secretary. That is the position that I know. No child should be denied education services due to the fact that their parents or guardians have not paid fees. We must engage with parents.”
She said Government will descend heavily on those institutions found on the wrong side of the law.
“We don’t want to hear anything to do with payment of fees. We are still on lockdown, schools are closed. Those demanding fees are demanding fees for which term? If you want to charge for anything you want to do in registered schools be it Government or private schools, they operate using the Education Act. It is the principal Act of the Ministry. It is very clear people should seek authorisation,” said Mrs Kaira.
She promised to engage schools that were violating the education policy stating that Government will descend heavily on those institutions found on the wrong side of the law. — @nqotshili