AT anything up to $50 per head, and attracting as many as 2,500 pupils battling for places at the most sought after schools, Form One entrance tests had become a huge money spinner for most secondary schools.
Now government has moved in and banned the exams, accusing school heads of ripping struggling parents off and using the exams to raise money instead of properly screening pupils.
The ban comes as schools were readying flight adverts for the tests in which prospective students pay non-refundable fees of between $30 and up to $50.
Education secretary, Rogers Sisimayi, told state media that schools must use the national Grade 7 results to conduct their Form One enrolments.
"The policy position of the ministry is very clear. Schools are supposed to enrol Form One pupils on the basis of their Grade Seven results," Simisayi told the Herald.
"What is the purpose of Grade Seven examinations if they are not used for Form One entrance? We communicated with schools through the normal channels and that is in our written circulars.
"Entrance tests had become a fundraising business, which Government wants to avoid at all costs. We are now following Government policy of the pro-poor agenda."
Simisayi warned schools against defying the ban.
He said: "Schools are aware of the ministry's position and the conduct of civil servants is guided by the provision of Statutory Instrument 1 of 2001 which partly reads, 'failure to obey an instruction by one in a position of authority is an act of misconduct'.
"We will cross the bridge when we get there should schools defy Government's directive".
The government position was supported by Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) head Richard Gundani.
"It is a positive development as it brings order in the form one recruitment exercise," said Gundani.
"Most schools were setting their own standards which increased the cost of education. As a result, some pupils were failing to access quality education."