Sending pupils away for unpaid fees a crime: Education Minister Minister Torerai Moyo

Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]

SCHOOLS sending away pupils for non-payment of fees risk being prosecuted for violating children’s right to education as the obligation to pay fees lies with parents and guardians.

Despite the country’s Constitution criminalising the exclusion of learners for non-payment of fees, some errant school authorities continue to defy the Government. 

Responding to legislators in Parliament during the National Assembly question and answer session on Wednesday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Torerai Moyo said Government has invoked the Statutory Instrument of 2000 to protect the children from having their right to education trampled on. 

“It is true that most students, despite being on BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Module), were being sent away from school. We have now put in place a law that ensures that anyone who sends a child away from school because of fees, whether on BEAM or not, will have committed a crime,” he said.

“They will have breached the children’s right to education. Our Constitution does not allow pupils to be sent away from school.”

Minister Moyo said some schools are guilty of double dipping as they claim fees from the Government while also demanding the money from parents and guardians.

He said the ministry has established command centres across the country to enable education stakeholders to communicate with it on any illegal activities happening in schools. 

“We are using a Statutory Instrument of 2000 which imposes penalties for sending children away from school. The school head can be charged for breaching the children’s right to education,” said Minister Moyo.

“Should anyone hear of any school still sending children away from school, please quickly let us know.”

Minister Moyo urged parents and guardians who can afford to pay fees to do so for the smooth running of the institutions.

“For those who are capable, they should pay fees for their children for the smooth running of schools, but schools should not chase away children for non-payment of fees. If all parents do not pay, it means the school will come to a standstill,” he said.

Instead of sending away pupils over non-payment of school fees, Minister Moyo said authorities should first engage parents and guardians.

It has since emerged that some school authorities were also sending away pupils under the Government-funded BEAM.

Government pays schools for more than 1,8 million learners under BEAM while other vulnerable pupils benefit from fee payment schemes under different partnerships with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.-@nqotshili

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