SCHOOL authorities have appealed to Government to allow them to peg fees in United States dollars saying that is the only way they can remain afloat as their RTGS budgets are quickly eroded by inflation.
School heads attending the National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash) conference in Victoria Falls also complained about bank charges incurred by schools in the administration of examination fees paid to the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec).
Manicaland province is hosting this year’s Nash conference and it opted that the Indaba be held in Victoria Falls.
Nash president Mr Arthur Maphosa who is Gwanda High School head said most learning institutions were struggling to cope with rising prices of goods and services.
He said schools were not demanding to collect fees in United States dollars but to be allowed to benchmark the fees in foreign currency such that their budgets remain effective even in an inflationary environment.
“While we appreciate different models of collection, depending on the geography of the school, it is Nash’s belief that benchmarking fees against the USD could make operations better.
Allow parents/guardians to pay using currency of their choice at the prevailing bank exchange rate.
If Zimsec can be allowed to benchmark examination fees against the USD, why not schools? This will address the problem of frequent fees approval requests,” said Mr Maphosa.
He said schools submit their applications requesting to increase fees in Harare and at times it takes long to get a response and this adversely affects operations.
Mr Maphosa implored Government to decentralise the process in the spirit of devolution so that schools can even apply in their respective provinces.
He said district schools’ inspectors and provincial education directors can handle the issues of fees in order to expedite the process.
Mr Maphosa said boarding schools were the worst affected by the issue of fees as they cannot keep learners at school without the resources.
Nash is also calling for the decentralisation of teacher deployment to speed up staffing as some schools are going for months without teachers as the deployment is done by the Public Service Commission.
“Applications for more and new teachers should be given urgent attention and deployment should be decentralised in line with devolution,” said Mr Maphosa.
On the issue of exam fees, Mr Maphosa said transmission of money from schools to Zimsec has also become an expenditure to schools.
“There is an urgent need to address this issue, schools are left financially crippled every time they collect exam fees on behalf of Zimsec as they pay bank charges.
We appeal to the ministry and Zimsec to help address this nightmare,” said Mr Maphosa.
The school heads also said collecting exam fees exposed them to robbers and thieves.
Schools want Zimsec to pay them a percentage of the examination fees or Zimsec to open an exam account so that candidates can deposit the fees and present proof of payment to examination centres.