‘Schools can send pupils away over fees’

The Sunday News

By Vusumuzi Dube

29 September 2012

EDUCATION, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Senator David Coltart, stirred a hornet’s nest after insisting that schools have the right to chase away students for non-payment of fees.

He said he would not give in to critics who have called on him to retract his statement.

The minister’s sentiments come in the wake of a backlash from parents who have criticised him for exhibiting double standards concerning the issue of school fees.

In an interview with Sunday News Minister Coltart said it had to be realised that schools needed the school fees for their day-to-day activities, thus the need for school heads to use whatever means possible to make pupils pay.

“People must differentiate between school fees and levies, fees are pegged by government and they range between US$5 and US$15, these are the charges which schools have the right to chase away pupils for. Besides these figures are just too minimal. It is really unfair to expect school authorities not to chase away students for this minimal figure,” said the minister.

He said unlike what has been said in the past that school authorities could face arrest if they chase away pupils, this only applied to levies and other incentives.

“Levies and incentives are derived by the school authorities together with the School Development Committees, these are the only charges where schools can’t excuse students from attending lessons. however we have a situation where some authorities take advantage of this directive to chase away the schoolchildren for both levies and incentives,” said Minister Coltart.

The minister also said they were putting in place mechanisms that would see them monitor all schools in the management of teacher incentives, adding that some schools were now taking advantage of the laxity of laws to charge exorbitant amounts.

“I am on record as saying incentives are a necessary ill because right now we cannot even offer these teachers conducive salaries so the incentives are the only route to go but we are now tightening monitoring mechanisms because some schools are just charging what they feel like charging and we have to seriously discourage this,” he said.