TEACHERS unions have expressed concern over the high cost of Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations saying this would deny some poor students from continuing with their education.
Ordinary Level examinations have been pegged at US$24 per subject, but students will pay US$11, while government pays the rest.
Advanced Level examination fees are at US$48, with students paying US$22, while government pays the rest. The fees are payable in local currency at prevailing official rate.
In a statement yesterday, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) described the new examination fees and payment deadlines as “inhumane”.
Artuz also expressed anger over the long distances that students have to walk from satellite schools to register at the authorised examination centres.
“Zimsec pegged its registration fees to an equivalent of US$24 dollars per subject. This gives an average Ordinary Level candidate the cost burden of US$120 for a minimum of five subjects. This is occurring in a context where the average civil servant is earning close to US$150 per month, hence making the examination fee way above their means. It also means that the average learner will require more than four months to raise adequate funds to register for examinations while the Friday April 14 deadline leaves students with less than six days to pay,” the Artuz statement read.
“Examinations are also a component of learning in the education system, and we believe that every learner should have access to them. Furthermore, the minimalism of the exam centres remains another issue of concern especially in marginalised communities where a few schools have registered centres for examinations.
“Learners who are forced to walk for long distances to sit for examinations are being disadvantaged as they have less time to do final preparations and will be exhausted when they sit for examinations. Most of these satellite schools consistently record zero percent pass rates.”
There are 1 087 satellite primary schools and 665 unregistered primary schools; 876 satellite secondary schools and 100 unregistered secondary schools in the country.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “The shift by Zimsec from US$22 to US$24 will heap burning coals upon the heads of thousands of Zimbabwean parents. It is prudent for Zimsec to realise that many pupils will drop out of school due to exorbitant school fees. Government must, therefore, make an urgent intervention to ensure that pupils can register for examinations. Above all, the period of registration is too short, and an extension until schools open will provide parents with a breathing space to hunt for examination fees.”
Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said government was just paying lip service by promising to safeguard accessibility of education for all as stipulated under section 75 of the Constitution.
Efforts to get a comment from Zimsec spokesperson Nicky Dhlamini were fruitless yesterday.
Source – NewsDay