THE Government will not exempt pupils from paying school fees for Term Two although some pupils will only resume classes in September.
However, parents and guardians might not pay the full fees for their children as consultations are going on to determine when and how much they should pay for the term, which if things were normal would be underway as of now. Schools were closed a week before the end of Term One in March as part of measures that were put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Government announced a phased reopening of primary and secondary schools that will see the first group comprising Form Six, Form Four and Grade Seven pupils resuming classes by end of July. That would be followed three weeks later by those in Lower Six, Form Three and Grade 6. The other grades and forms will resume later, depending on the Covid-19 situation, with lower classes such as Early Child Development (ECD) expected to start around September.
Under normal circumstances, September was supposed to be the beginning of the third term, meaning those who will start that month will have completely missed Term Two. Nonetheless, some schools are already conducting online classes.
The second term was supposed to run from 5 May to 6 August while the third term was supposed to start from 8 September to 3 December. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cde Cain Mathema told Sunday News yesterday that despite a situation where children had not been attending lessons in the conventional manner, parents were still expected to pay fees.
“We are going to make the country know about how we will go about it, Covid-19 is a new experience for everybody, we do not readily have all the answers as to how we are going to operate.
“Parents must not panic, schools will be functioning and what is required will be let known to them. It’s a new experience altogether for us.
“We want to make sure that every child goes back to school. What parents will pay and when they will pay is going to be addressed in due course.
These are details that we are going to work out with parents too, they have a right to make suggestions on what we should do, no one person or institution has an answer, we have to all come out with a solution that satisfies everybody,” he said.
Cde Mathema said parents, through their School Development Committees and Associations must air their views on how the issue of fees could be addressed.
“At the end of the day, the system must be sustainable, we do not want solutions that will make people believe all is in order when it is not. The education system cannot exist without money, so all of us have to contribute, the State, parents and guardians all have to contribute and our partners in education too,” he said.
Cde Mathema said parents should also move away from the “Messiah syndrome” that someone will come up with solutions suitable for them, but instead should give their own solutions best fit for them.
He added that no timetable has been set for radio lessons, which will first target primary school pupils. The lessons will be transmitted through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Communications and Zimpapers radio. Last week, there was a notice circulating on social media purporting to show a timetable for radio lessons.
“We cannot work with social media reports, if you have not received anything from the ministry itself and if we have not issued a statement yet, we cannot work with that (social media). It causes panic,” he said.
Cde Mathema emphasised that individual schools must play a role on ensuring they contribute to the safety of staff and students once schools are open.
“We were in Marondera with Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, we are saying all schools will produce all things it requires, be it sanitisers, Personal Protective Equipment suits and face masks. We are creating factories in schools, if you look at departments like Fashion and Fabrics, textile technology and others, they must produce even their school uniforms and sanitary wear which is being imported into the country now.
“By law I should be providing sanitary wear for girls from Grade Three upwards which we can make for ourselves. Schools have shown that we have to think afresh and make things for ourselves that we need to fight Covid-19. We have asked for a ZW$3,6 billion budget from the Ministry of Finance to assist each school in making their own sanitary wear and other things.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said from tests conducted yesterday, 13 cases tested positive to Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in the country to 356. The new cases were 12 returnees from South Africa and one returnee from United Kingdom. They are all now under isolation. A total of 54 infected people have recovered, leaving the country with 298 active cases and four deaths from Covid-19.