Demanding school fees in USD only is illegal – Government

It is illegal for schools to demand fees in Us dollars only without the alternative for parents to pay in local currency, the National Assembly heard on Wednesday.

Zimbabwean schools opened on Tuesday for the second term and some headmasters are not accepting fees paid in local currency, preferring US dollars only while those accepting, are allegedly pegging it using the black-market rate.

Responding to questions from legislators, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said it is illegal for schools to demand US dollar-denominated fees only.

“In areas where school heads are refusing to accept the Zimbabwe dollar and they only prefer the US dollar, that is illegal. I will repeat (again), if that happens, let the parents get in contact with the district schools inspectors so that corrective measures are taken.

“We wonder what the interest is in heads who do not want to accept the Zimbabwe dollar as legal tender in their schools when the laws of the land are very clear. We want to take this opportunity to warn them to say that there must not be a reason for stern measures against schools.

They have to comply -the issues of compliance were discussed here and we have to find ways of strengthening our statutes to ensure total compliance by our officers on the ground. That is not allowed not to accept any legal tender in the country,” he said.

Schools are allowed to peg their fees in USD, but if a parent wants to pay in local currency, they use the prevailing interbank rate on the date of payment.

Some school heads are reportedly turning away learners whose parents have not yet paid fees.  But Deputy Minister Moyo said such headmasters would face disciplinary action.

“Schools are not allowed to send away students. The contract for school fee payment is between the school and the parents and not the students.

Where schools are sending away children who have not paid fees, there are penalties. The penalty is a charge that is attracted by that action. As I speak, yesterday we got information that some schools here in Harare sent away children who had not paid fees and this morning our officers were in those schools where we expect charges to be preferred against the culprits,” he said.

Moyo said teams were deployed to investigate the ‘malpractice’ by school heads.

“If those cases are reported to us, we take corrective measures like I have already indicated – I may not name the schools in Harare where we sent officers this morning to go and interview the children, interview the teachers, the heads, with a view of preferring charges on those headmasters. Yesterday (Tuesday) I received one Hon. Senator who brought that information and we sent people there and charges are already being preferred against that kind of head. When I say charges, I am referring to disciplinary processes where we prefer a charge and say in terms of this section, you have committed an act of misconduct,” he said. – New Ziana

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