THE Government has warned schools against charging orientation fees for new students.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education announced that it is illegal for schools to introduce such a charge and that non-compliant institutions will face legal action.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary, Moses Mhike, told H-Metro that while it is not unusual for schools to hold orientation programmes, their costs cannot be transferred to parents without the required approval.
“There is really nothing fundamentally wrong with schools that have orientation programmes for new students joining the school. “It is good for the new students to be familiarised with their new environment and the culture of the school. But it is wrong for schools to charge orientation fees and force parents to pay.
“As a Ministry, we would be happy to get information on the schools that are doing so, so that we take appropriate and decisive action.
“No fee or levy shall be charged on any parent without being applied for and approved by the Secretary,” he said.
Parents who spoke on anonymity said this has been the first time that they have been forced to pay orientation fees.
“This is my third child who has gone for Form 1 and it’s the first time we have been forced to pay orientation fees. Schools are being unfair to us because their fees are already hefty and then they charge us a huge orientation fee,” said one parent.
Mhike also said that parents have the right to purchase uniforms for their children from anywhere they wish, and should not be forced to purchase them from schools.
Most schools are forcing parents to buy uniforms for new students from the schools as a condition for admission to class.
“As for school uniforms, parents have the freedom to purchase them from anywhere where they are reasonably priced or cheaper.
“The Ministry has been monitoring compliance on some of these issues and non-compliance from Heads attracts disciplinary action as stipulated in our procedures.
“We would also be grateful if information is shared with the Ministry on the actual schools where this is happening and we will take immediate action,” he said.
Parents from a girls boarding school in Harare told H-metro yesterday that as they were concluding their last minute shopping, the school had increased uniform prices by US$10 on each item.
“We are so disappointed by the prices that we are being charged for uniforms. A basic shirt is going for US$14 while the uniform dress which was going for US$25 last week is now going for US$35, the blazer was going for US$65 and is now going for US$75.”