Zimbabwe: Send Away Non-Paying Students - Coltart

Coltart said it was legal for pupils to be turned away at schools, adding that it was policy within the government that the pupil must first pay their fees before being admitted into class.

But this policy, according to Coltart, only applies to tuition fee and it excludes levies, which are administered by the schools through their school development committees

"The government policy is clear on the issue of non-payment of fees; the parents need to be notified that it is indeed legal for the school to chase away pupils on non-payment of fees. However, this policy only applies to the tuition fee and not to the school administered levies," he said.

"The government regulated the tuition fee to minimal amounts, which are structured all across the country for government schools where in rural areas for primary children it is free, and in urban high density areas it is US$5."

The Education Minister also disclosed that the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), meant to assist under-privileged children was not available at the moment as it was under review.

"BEAM is currently not available to parents as it is currently under review. However, as said by the Minister of Finance we still need money. This year alone more than US$153 000 must be injected into the programme so that vulnerable children are not left out in benefitting from education services," said Coltart.

Musa Moyo, a parent at a local primary school, said he felt betrayed by the government as the same minister had assured them last year that it was not allowed for schools to turn away students.

"This is the calibre of politicians we have in the country that come to the people and lie; last year the Education Minister revealed that it was illegal for pupils to be sent away from school, and this year conveniently on opening day he gives them the green light to send our children back home," said Moyo.

He added: "Our children were on BEAM programme, which magically disappeared like all other government initiatives. The government should react before orphans and other vulnerable children are pulled out of schools over non-payment of fees."

Last year, Coltart blamed the inclusive government and parents for the chaos in schools, following a public outcry from parents and civil society over the violation of a High Court ruling and the Ministry of Education's directive to stop schools from sending children away for non-payment of fees.

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