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Government okays US$ school fees

You can now pay your ZESA in US$
You can now pay your ZESA in US$

The government has authorised schools to charge tuition in United States (US) dollars, prompting calls for formal dollarisation as the majority of the country’s workforce is paid in Zimbabwe dollars.
This follows a public outcry from parents after schools withheld end-of-term results for thousands of students who failed to pay their fees in full for the second term, which concluded on Thursday.

fees in U.S. dollars
Taungana Ndoro

Some schools demanded delinquent fees in US dollars, arguing that they had been diminished by inflation, which rose to 256.9% in July from 191.65% in June.

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Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro stated that schools could charge fees in U.S. dollars to cover operational expenses.


“Some parents have ignored school officials’ requests for payment of school fees. Therefore, those parents whose children’s results have been withheld must approach school officials and discuss the next steps, he said.


“It is reasonable for schools to demand fees in arrears at the interbank rate in effect at the time. Schools are permitted to charge tuition in foreign currency and accept foreign currency payments from parents, but only at the interbank rate in effect at the time. However, schools may not exclusively require parents to pay in foreign currency.”


As poverty levels in Zimbabwe remain high, a recent survey by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) revealed that parents and guardians could no longer afford to pay school fees, with only 26% able to cover their children’s education costs.


In addition, school administrators have been refusing to register Ordinary and Advanced Level Zimbabwe School Examinations Council candidates who have not paid their full registration fees.


Takavafira Zhou, the president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, stated that allowing schools to set tuition in US dollars would be disastrous for workers earning in Zimbabwe dollars.


“Because the government claims it has not yet dollarized, it must prohibit schools from billing in foreign currency. This indicates that the government has lost complete control over the education sector,” Zhou explained.


The president of the Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads, Munyaradzi Majoni, stated, “This is an unambiguous admission that the US dollar is the only viable currency.”


The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) reported yesterday that a family of five now needs $281 000 per month to survive, up from $240 000 per month in June, as the local currency plummets and prices of basic goods and services soar.


According to CCZ acting executive director Rosemary Mpofu, the food basket increased by 21.53 percent from June to July 2022.


“As evidenced by the consumer basket for the month of July, the cost of living continues to rise,” said Mpofu. “The cost of living, as measured by the CCZ’s low-income urban earners’ monthly basket for a family of six, increased from $240 014,45 at the end of June to $281 062,83 by the end of July 2022, a $41,048 increase.”


The Grain Marketing Board increased the price of wheat by 30 percent, prompting the Grain Marketing Board to increase the price of bread by the same amount. Economists cautioned citizens to prepare for additional price increases.


The government must eliminate distortions in the foreign exchange and gold markets by liberalising exchange rates, according to economist Gift Mugano. For the avoidance of doubt, as long as there are distortions, it is evident that any policy prescribed for the same market will fail.


“The government must emphasise the commodity exchange as an efficient mechanism for the financing and marketing of agricultural commodities, as opposed to the current system in which the financing and marketing of agricultural commodities are largely in the hands of the government.” Newsday

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