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Education Bill withdrawn
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
February 10, 2006

Read Education Amendment Bill sails through House

THE House of Assembly has adopted a motion seeking to withdraw the Education Amendment Bill, which sought to give additional powers to the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture in fixing school fees and levies, and replace it with a new consolidated text.

The motion was moved by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa on Wednesday following an adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) on some provisions of the original Bill which the committee described as "unconstitutional".

In moving the motion, Cde Chinamasa said the consolidated Bill should be treated as having been presented and referred to the PLC.

The new Bill makes it mandatory for every school authority to first apply to the Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture for approval before charging any fee or levy.

The secretary is, in turn, obliged to approve the increase applied for where such increase does not exceed the percentage increase in the cost of living from the beginning to the end of the preceding term as indicated by the Consumer Price Index published by the Central Statistical Office.

School authorities should get approval of a majority of the parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than 20 percent of the parents.

Any responsible authority aggrieved by a decision of the secretary may appeal to the minister.

The minister may, after due consideration, grant or refuse the appeal before fixing the appropriate levy or fee.

Those aggrieved by the decision of the minister may appeal to the Administrative Court.

Clause 10 proposes to give the minister power to prescribe the minimum qualifications of all teachers employed by all schools, a provision necessitated by the fact that some private schools were employing teachers who were good at sport but lacked the necessary teaching qualifications.

The minister is also empowered to govern the conduct and behaviour of all teachers including those who fall outside the public service.

Clause 12 seeks to provide for the teaching of Zimbabwe’s three main languages — Shona, English and Ndebele — in all schools up to Form Two, on an equal-time basis.

In addition, there is a new provision which proposes the recognition of more than one association of teachers following the birth of several new associations whose existence deserved to be acknowledged.

Clause 14 seeks to amend Section 69 of the principal Act by giving the minister power to make regulations on the wearing of school uniforms.

Education, Sport and Culture Minister Cde Aeanes Chigwedere has attributed the massive increase in fees and levies by some schools to rising inflation.

"On the fee increases, our problem is on inflation as my ministry has no authority to do something about (controlling) inflation," he told the House of Assembly.

Cde Chigwedere was responding to a question by Lupane MP Mr Njabuliso Mguni (MDC) on why some schools had increased fees to as much as $20 million a term.

He said the Government was playing its part to ensure that education remained affordable and if there was a shortfall, parents had to chip in.

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