Govt gets tough on school budgets

While boarding fees have to cover the cost of food and other living expenses of school children, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has discovered some schools are using highly inflated prices to raise budgets and justify unwarranted fee increases.

The ministry has been checking the numbers and rejecting fees that use incorrect and inflated data, placing an unnecessary burden on parents. 

One boarding school had its budget declined after pegging a crate of eggs at US$10, more than double the average price of between US$4 to US$5.

To avert this for the current school calendar, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education set up a committee that scrutinised budgets item by item which exposed some inaccurate data that have been exploited by school authorities over the years.

Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mr Moses Mhike said some school budgets had been rejected due to inflated prices .

“I can also share with you that there are certain levels of fees that I have said ‘no’ to, I will give an example where as we went through a certain budget of a certain school, which wanted to buy eggs where it set the cost of a crate at US$10. So, if you do not then go diligently on those items, those are things that can be easily smuggled in,” he said.

As for fees, Mr Mhike said it is all approved by the Government.

“Every increase of fees must be approved by the ministry; the approving committee goes through every request put by all schools. 

“We look at affordability from parents mainly focusing on civil servants pay cheques and we act without compromising the education system in terms of quality,” he said.

Some of the interviewed parents and guardians have welcomed the move to scrutinise the budgets item by item saying it is a step in the right direction.

Mr Tatenda Mazhandu said parents have been at the receiving end of being milked by some schools.

“It is shameful that we have school authorities who overpriced items while laying the burden on us parents.

“Corruption is so rife in schools that the Government should continue closely monitoring, especially the tendering system is usually prone to abuse among the top officials who will receive kickbacks from suppliers,” he said.

Mrs Sarudzai Kandeya said corruption in schools had become a thorn in the flesh over the years.

“Whenever there is a tender the school officials actually view that as an opportunity to profiteer. All this obviously has a negative impact on the parents and guardians as they are the ones that pay the money,” she said.

Mr Alick Tinopambwa said: “It is actually sad that some school authorities are insensitive to the plight of parents to the extent of pegging a crate of eggs at US$10.”


*Positive Eye News*

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