Abigail Mawonde and Tafadzwa Ndlovu
Some parents yesterday said they are against the introduction of levies on suppliers of various wares to schools proposed by the Government which is supposed to take effect in the second term which starts today.Parents feared that the extra costs will result in the suppliers increasing their prices, forcing the schools to up their fees to cover for the new prices of goods.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora was yesterday quoted by our Bulawayo Bureau as saying starting this month, suppliers to schools would be levied to raise funds for infrastructural development.
He said there were over 1 600 service providers of stationary, computers and sports equipment working with schools and would be levied to help Government raise the money.
Parents who spoke to The Herald expressed discontent over the move.
“If Government is to levy suppliers, the prices for their wares are likely going to be higher so as to meet their usual profits. This will mean that if schools are supplied at higher prices parents will indirectly incur the costs,” said Ms Joice Muranganwa of Mabvuku. “My daughter is at Kwenda High School in Hwedza where we are forced to buy uniforms such as blazers and tracksuits at $50 each, double the price of what you can get in the CBD. School uniform expense alone is about $300 and the fees is about $500.”
Mrs Tendai Maphosa, whose child learns at Nyadire High school in Mutoko, said Government must revise their plan and come up with measures to protect parents from charging exorbitant prices.
“We do not welcome any proposal that will make access to education more expensive than it is already. I suggest they revise the idea and let the situation remain as it is unless certain measures are taken to avoid transferring costs to parents who are already struggling,” she said.
Mr Amos Musoni, who was accompanying his child to Rio Tinto School in Zhombe, said there was need for Government to reconsider its education policies. “This issue of levies on suppliers is unacceptable because it will affect parents,” he said. “I think Government should revisit some of its polices before implementing them. The parents always suffer in the long run and that must be avoided.”
Other parents bemoaned the hike of school fees this term.
“At Nyamuzuhwe High school in Mashonaland East where my son is in Form Three, fees increased from $398 to $545 for second term and school authorities demanded that we pay a top up of $147 for last term,” said Mrs Janet Marufu.
“If they levy suppliers, cost will obviously be transferred to us hence making life difficult for most parents. We are urging Government to ensure that the cost of education becomes affordable than to introduce measures that will only increase costs.”
Minister Dokora was quoted as saying the introduction of the levies on suppliers was long overdue and he did not expect anyone to cry foul over the development.
He said businesses that were not interested in paying levies risked being de-listed as suppliers to schools.