Some schools hike their fees  

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DESPITE the uncertainty surrounding the dates for the re-opening of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, some private institutions have already hiked their fees for the second term, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the government is preparing to introduce far-reaching regulations for all schools, including cutting the number of students per class, to enhance necessary Covid-19 physical distancing.
Documents in possession of the Daily News show that although the government has ruled out schools re-opening next week, some private schools have pushed up their fees significantly for the second term, which they also want paid as soon as possible.
Among these schools are Peterhouse Group of Schools in Marondera, St John’s College in Harare and Heritage School.
Peterhouse is charging $79 500 or US$1 590 for Peterhouse Girls (PHG) day scholars a term, while Peterhouse Boys’ School boarders should pay $133 000 or US$2 660.
St John’s wants $99 000 or US$1 650 from its Form Six students, $90 000 or US$1 500 for forms One to Four, $66 000 or US$1 100 for its preparatory level pupils, and $54 000 or US$900 for Early Childhood Development (ECD) learners.
“As you will be well aware, we have for some time been operating in increasingly difficult circumstances in Zimbabwe.
“The latest unwelcome challenge we face is the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic which has only served to complicate things further.
“At this point in time, we have had no communication from the ministry of Education and, therefore, we do not know whether schools will re-open on Tuesday 5 May,” St John’s said in its letter to parents and guardians.
“However, you will be aware, St John’s had already started online and remote schooling at the end of the first term which was truncated by the lockdown.
“Since then, the schools’ management and staff have been hard at work, both continuing with the provision of online learning and proactively preparing and improving systems for online and remote teaching in the event that the lockdown extends beyond the start of the trinity term.
“From a financial perspective, our schools continue to incur fixed costs, whether the schools are fully open with students attending school, or in providing online and remote teaching,” the school said further.
“For this reason, your board has decided at this stage to raise an interim deposit to meet these fixed costs for the trinity term.
“This deposit covers the cost of ensuring that academic online and remote teaching operation will be in place for the full term,” it added.
On its part, Peterhouse said its executive committee had met on March 21, with one of the items on the agenda being the issue of school fees for the new term.
“While a provisional incremental increase in the real value of school fees was approved, it was resolved to hold off on any communication in this regard, in order to also take into account the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.

 

“We request parents to pay a deposit towards the trinity terms school fees to cover the fixed costs of running the three schools for the next four months,” it said in its letter accompanying the new fees structure.
Heritage School justified its fees hike by saying its senior department had been working with children through the e-learning platform.
The school is demanding US$900 from its preparatory pupils, US$1 150 for those in year one and two, US$1 350 in year three to seven, US$1 650 for those in year eight to 13, and US$1 750 for those in boarding.
“We … circulated deposit figures in March. In line with the government’s relation on the use of foreign currency in the economy, we have reviewed our fees and pegged them in US dollars for the full term.
“We hope that this makes it easier for your plans and gives you flexibility of deciding which currency is easier for you to pay fees in,” it said in its letter to parents.
However, the government told the Daily News last week that it was “premature” for schools to start demanding fees.
“There are so many issues which must be looked into before we talk about fees.
“I think it’s premature for schools to demand fees because we don’t know when schools are going to open and what is going to happen,” Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela said.

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