Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

SOME schools have defied Government directive and forced learners to pay for holiday lessons despite a ban on vacation learning.

The Government last month prohibited schools from offering holiday lessons stating that pupils have sufficient time to study during the term.

Holiday lessons were allowed especially during the Covid-19 era when school terms were affected by the lockdowns.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education last month received requests from some schools to carry out vacation classes, but after consulting with education stakeholders, the Government resolved not to accept holiday lessons to allow pupils to rest.

Chronicle observed that a number of schools, mostly private institutions in Victoria Falls, have been conducting full lessons between 8am and 1pm since Monday.

Some claimed that the sporting activities in the term disturbed in-class learning schedules hence they want to compensate for lost time.

Parents have however expressed dismay at the conduct of schools which they accused of using the holiday lessons to fundraise.

Most of the schools reportedly ordered learners not to put on uniforms and some have claimed that it is the learners that requested to meet their teachers.

Some schools that had scheduled holiday lessons cancelled them and either refunded parents that had paid or redirected the holiday fees to school fees for the second term after Government prohibited holiday lessons.

However, some have gone ahead in apparent defiance.

“Children are going to school and most parents have paid fees after school authorities ordered every pupil to attend holiday lessons. Most of them told kids not to wear school uniforms as a way of avoiding being detected,” said a parent with a pupil at one of the private schools.

One school that has openly defied Government is Waterfalls Academy in Aerodrome.

Victoria Falls has one conventional public secondary school, Mosi-oa-Tunya High School while Mkhosana Adventist Secondary is church-run.

The other secondary schools are private and either use private houses or have built their premises.

“The school will run an intensive vacation programme from 8 April to 26 April 2024. Lessons will begin at 8am up to 2pm during which learners will only be allowed to put on tracksuits or sports attire,” said Waterfalls Academy administration in a letter to parents.

The letter was sent before the Government ban.

After Government banned holiday lessons, the school did not suspend lessons but instead ordered parents to pay and pupils not to wear uniforms.

“We encourage learners to attend vacation so that we can catch up with lost time that was taken away by the athletics competitions throughout the term. It is important for all candidates to attend without fail,” said the school to parents.

Forms 1 and 2 pupils paid US$20 for the holiday lessons while Forms 2 and 4 paid US$25 and Forms 5 and 6 US$30.

Contacted for comment, Waterfalls head Ms Memory Mugadza claimed they were only helping Form 4 classes to do CALA assignments.

“It is true we didn’t seek exemption but we only had Form 4s that were doing CALA,” she said.

School fees are pegged at US$280 per child per term for those doing Zimsec and US$310 for those doing Cambridge and Advanced Level.

Parents with children at the school have also expressed concern as the school administration is demanding US$230 per child for a trip scheduled for 6 August to 9 August to Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo.

Contacted for comment, director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro warned schools against going against policy.

He said Government had not reversed the ban and schools found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with.

“There was no reversal and the ban stands. Our teams are on the ground ensuring adherence to the directive,” he said briefly.

— @ncubeleon

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