Extra lessons, incentives remain illegal

The Chronicle

Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter

THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has warned schools and teachers against continuing to demand extra fees and incentives from parents and guardians in order to teach their children, saying such practice is illegal.

Teachers in many schools across the country have been reportedly charging varying amounts for additional fees per child a month to offer extra lessons.

This comes after civil servants and teachers were awarded a package that includes a 20 percent increment across the board backdated to January 1 and a US$100 cash allowance.

There is also a school fees support scheme and 34 000 flats to be built on school grounds over five years.

The Covid-19-induced lockdowns disrupted the normal way of doing things and gave rise to online learning. Examination classes were the most affected as this saw a drop in the national pass rate in 2020.

When schools opened this year, teachers went on a strike as they bemoaned incapacitation due to low wages and to solve this, several schools have decided to introduce teacher incentives, which the Government has however, declared illegal.

Director of communication and advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro yesterday said incentives remain illegal and schools that continue victimising desperate parents will be punished.

“Incentives were outlawed a long time ago. No school should charge parents additional funds over and above what has been authorised by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education as agreed upon by the Parental Assembly,” he said.

“Collection of such fees is illegal and teaching should be optimum in schools for all learners to derive benefit from the time they are in school with their teachers, supplemented by homework that is given them”.

Mr Ndoro said teachers were not supposed to burden parents as they were already on salary and urged parents to work with the ministry in addressing the challenge.

“Teachers are already on a salary and therefore, parents should not give them incentives whenever they are asked to. Parents don’t take care of teachers and thus they must not pay them,” he said.

“Parents should work together with us because as much as we are working on stopping this, some are going behind our backs and giving incentives still.”

On Wednesday, some parents in Bulawayo reported that their children were not being taught after they failed to pay a fee of US$10 to a Grade 7 teacher at a local primary school.

Disgruntled parents said the demands by teachers have negatively impacted children whose parents cannot afford them as their children are not receiving lessons.

The practice is said to be rampant in public schools whose teachers are paid by Government.

A parent who preferred to remain anonymous said her child was being denied the right to education following her failure to pay the money requested by the teacher.

“The teacher proposed that each child in her class of 45 students should pay a monthly fee of US$10 for her to be able to afford data and conduct lessons even during the weekend. 

“A parent WhatsApp group was set up and many were complaining that the US$10 was just too much, but most of them paid and only eight of us failed to pay,” she said.

She alleged that her child and the others who failed to pay have since last week been excluded from the class. The parent said she was worried that such a development will affect her child’s final examination.

“The whole of last week, my daughter said she had not been attending class after their teacher divided them into groups which had learners who paid extra fees and those whose parents did not. They were told that they won’t be attending lessons until they pay the monthly fee,” said the parent.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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