By Joyce Mukucha
To ensure that the basic right of the child to access state-funded education is protected, Tag a Life International (TaLI) has urged the Government of Zimbabwe to consider the current suffering of citizens and review its position and abolish exam fees to guarantee those poor children who constitute more than 70 percent of learners are not disadvantaged.
This follows new ZIMSEC exam fees of $125 for grade 7, $90 per subject for ordinary level and $165 per subject for advanced level.
Addressing members of the fourth estate in Harare on the 16th of March 2020, TaLI Director who is also the Convener of Every Child in School (ECIS) Ms. Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said a significant percentage of children were failing to get into formal education system despite the availability of policies and laws.
She emphasised that fees increment was unacceptable and illegal and blamed the continued acts of Government of shifting the 47 percent of exam fees to be the responsibility of parents, despite provisions of the Constitution in section 75 A, and the Education Amendment Act of 2019 stating clearly that it is the primary responsibility of Government to provide state-funded basic education.
“The government seems to be highly detached from the suffering of citizens. Zimbabwe has more than 95 percent informal employment, meaning most families are living from hand to mouth. Many of the children will not seat for examinations if the state does not fully fund examination fees for the largely poor children who constitute more than 70 percent of its learners,” she said.
Ms. Mashayamombe reiterated that state-funded basic education was not just about putting in place laws, it is about respecting, mechanising and funding for infrastructure seriously and earnestly to achieve those provisions.
“Zimbabwe is the only government in the Southern African region whose children still pay for basic education. While the state has provided the progressive policies; Circular of 2009 which disallows children to be sent back home for failing to pay fees, circular 3 of 2019 which comprehensively allows children access to enrollment and outlines grounds for discrimination as well as through the recently signed education amendment act, imposing exam fees were taking away from all these provisions.
“Why should a child be allowed access into school and kept without money for all these years only to be discriminated upon when it comes to being tested for what they have gained in knowledge through exam fees which they cannot pay? It is showing a glaring absence of respect for the Constitution, the education amendment act and all policies that promote child education,” she said.
The Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) National Coordinator, Rev Taylor Nyanhete supported TaLI as he said access to education was critical.
” We plead to government to prioritize access to basic education. It must put in place practical measures to ensure children have access to state-funded basic education,” Rev Nyanhete said.