‘Exam fees beyond reach of many’

TEACHERS’ unions say there is a low turnout of pupils registering for the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) examinations due to high fees, which they argue are beyond the reach of many.

This comes as the government in May this year said it had committed a
$1, 7 billion grant for the administration of this year’s Zimsec examinations.

However, speaking to the Daily News yesterday, teachers said a large number of pupils were failing to register for the examinations as their parents and guardians could not afford the fees.

Zimsec is charging $158 per subject for Grade 7 examinations, $1 648 per subject for ‘O’ level pupils, while  $2 400 is required for every ‘A’ level subject fees.

“Many parents are failing to register the number of subjects that they want for their children. 

“The problem is that the economic situation for most families is actually so bad that the parents cannot afford that $790 (for Grade 7), even if it is in theory subsidised by the government.

“We are, however, finding it difficult to blame Zimsec because it is a
non-profit making organisation that depends much on the government hand-outs.

“We do not believe that the government will actually subsidise Zimsec which is the reason why in most cases it has to budget using a higher figure most communities cannot afford.

“Previously it once promised it had injected some money into the Zimsec account for registration of exams but on the ground there is nothing.

“The government should put more effort in trying to ensure that learners actually register for a lesser figure or at the very least I believe that the government should extend the deadline to at least mid-August,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general for research, Josiphat Gwezhira, said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) secretary-general Goodwill Taderera also concurred with Gwezhira, saying that the government should seriously intervene to ensure all learners get registered.

“Failure to register by ‘O’ and ‘A’ level candidates does not come to us as a surprise because it is something that we have already indicated when examination fees were set by the government.

“Given that we are into lockdowns in and out, most parents have not been fully employed for quite some time, especially those in informal trade. 

“Because of this, it is obvious the learners would not get enough money for their registration.

“The government should intervene and make sure that no learner will be disadvantaged which is in line with the sustainable development goal number four (SDG4) where
learners should all have equal access to education and therefore of course examinations,” Taderera said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure, on the other hand, said the education system should remain accessible to the majority of the people who need it.

“We condemn the commodification of education which is being fronted by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube under this government.

“Section 75 of the Constitution mandates the state to provide basic education and paying exam fees for our learners is one step into the right direction of providing learners with basic education.

“We are conducting a survey on the number of students who are likely to fail to write their exams, it is shocking to realise that almost 50 percent of
learners might not be able to sit for the exams,” Masaraure told the Daily News yesterday.

However, contacted for comment, Zimsec spokesperson Nicola Dhlamini dismissed the low turnout claims.

“Right now I am in Binga on a country tour and learners are registering for their exams, do not be drowned into politics dzana Majongwe (Majongwe’s politics). 

“If they want to direct questions they should direct them accurately, to say in a specific district learners are failing to register because of this and that. 

“If learners here in rural areas are registering, what more in urban centres?

“For the cushion on the exam fee by the government, they committed
$1,7 billion which is being used to process the examinations,” Dhlamini said yesterday.