The government of Zimababwe has assented to the payment of school fees by parents using livestock or labour for the schools. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said over the weekend that school authorities should be flexible and not turn away pupils because their parents have no money to pay tuition fees.
“Our schools have to be flexible and ensure those who do not have money to pay fees can work. For example, if there is a builder in the community, he/she must be given that opportunity to work as a form of payment of tuition fees,” he told local newspaper Sunday Mail.
This was further elaborated by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango who was quoted by the newspaper saying payment using livestock is reserved for rural areas while those in towns and cities can pay by working for the school.
This option raised divergent views from parents while the country’s teachers’ association called for a change in the policy. “I do not think that it’s sustainable with regards to parents in urban areas … so many parents have outstanding balances. Therefore, I am trying to imagine those 1 000-plus parents coming to work at a school … Why spend time doing manual labour at a school when they can go there to look for a good job?”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general John Mlilo was quoted.
This development follows the recent tabling of a bill in parliament to direct banks to accept livestock as collateral for cash loans to informal businesses. The Movable Property Security Interests bill, if passed, will allow livestock and household appliances to be acceptable as collateral after evaluation and registration by the central bank.
Cash shortages hit Zimbabwe last year after the government threatened to grab all foreign companies operating in the country under the Indigenisation and Empowerment Law.
Banks in Zimbabwe were compelled to reduce withdrawal bank limits for customers to as low as US$40 per day per individual. This has led to hundreds of ordinary Zimbabweans sleeping outside banks daily to get the much need cash.