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Bill adopted after heated debate
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
March 01, 2006
THE House of Assembly
yesterday adopted amendments made by the Upper House to the Education
Amendment Bill after a heated debate as parliamentarians were divided
over the contentious issue of school fees.
The Lower House was
divided with 45 Zanu-PF lawmakers voting in favour of the adoption of
the amendments and 25 MDC legislators opposing.
The Bill was read
for the third time and it now awaits Presidential assent for it to become
It seeks to provide
for the charging of fees and levies in line with the Consumer Price Index
(CPI) as published by the Central Statistical Office (CSO).
Presenting the amendments,
Education, Sport and Culture Minister Cde Aeneas Chigwedere told the Lower
House that the Senate had deleted Clause 5, 21 (1) of the Bill that stipulated
that the provisions of the proposed law shall not apply to fees and levies
existing on the day the amendment comes into effect.
Cde Chigwedere said
adopting the amendment was tantamount to legalising the illegal high fees
that were being charged by some trust schools.
Cde Chigwedere said
it was surprising to note that some trust schools had increased fees well
above the CPI yet they were the ones that had come up with the idea of
linking the fee and levy increase to the index.
took advantage of the fact that the Bill had not yet been enacted and
hiked the fees and levies beyond the CPI. The fee hikes are illegal because
the CPI at the end of November and December was known," he said.
Some of the amendments
adopted by the Lower House that were approved by the Senate included provisos
in Clause 5 giving guidelines for the increase of fees or levies in non-government
Under the provisions,
the Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture shall approve an increase
of fees or levies if the increase is sought in respect of the next term
of the non-government school concerned provided:
(a) it does not
exceed the percentage increase in the cost of living from the beginning
of the proceeding term as indicated by the CPI and CSO;
(b) the fees or
levies for the day pupils who are provided with meals at the school
are not more than 40 percent of the fees or levies paid by boarders;
(c) the fees or
levies for the day pupils who are not provided with meals at the school
are not more than 30 percent of the fees or levies paid by the boarders.
Cde Chigwedere said
the amendments had been necessitated by the need to guard against a situation
in which day school pupils would be made to subsidise boarders, as there
must be a margin of difference in the fees or levies paid.
Contributing to the
debate, MDC Chief Whip and Mutare Central MP Mr Innocent Gonese said the
amendments by the Senate would create mayhem in the administration of
schools, as some would have to reduce the fees or levies in line with
the CPI and CSO.
"That will cause
havoc in the smooth running of the schools. We will be creating undue
hardships for the schools," he said.
His sentiments were
echoed by Chitungwiza MP Mr Fidelis Mhashu (MDC), who is also the chairperson
of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Education, Sport and Culture,
who said there was no rationale for the Upper House to repeal some of
the amendments made by the Lower House.
The opposition lawmaker
wanted to know what formula Cde Chigwedere had applied in order to determine
the percentage gap between the fees and levies paid by day pupils and
In response, Cde Chigwedere
said experience had shown that most trust schools did not spend 40 percent
of their fees on teaching, hence the need to prescribe the percentage
increase in the fees or levies paid by day and boarding pupils.
"If we remove
the amendments, some schools are going to charge the day and boarding
pupils the same fees - which is not fair.
"This is a vital
amendment and I urge our members to support it," he said.
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