BULAWAYO, Friday, November 22, 1991 — There was an outcry in Bulawayo yesterday against the re-introduction of school fees, with some people saying the new fees structure placed most of the burden on the shoulders of low-density suburbs.
The Consumer Council Of Zimbabwe’s acting regional officer for Matabeleland, Cde Medellin Toni, called the Government to undertake a thorough survey to determine who should pay and how much they should pay.
“They should really go back and establish which child should pay and which should not because there are some people who live in the high density suburbs who earn more than those who live in the low density suburbs”, she said.
Cde Toni said that families would be split up as some parents who cannot afford urban fees may send their children to the rural areas. While it is assumed that people in the urban areas could afford the fees, the Government overlooked the fact that some parents in the rural areas were better paid than those in urban areas, she said.
Cde Toni cited the example of businessmen, civil servants, doctors and other professionals working in the rural areas as some of the people that would benefit from the new fees structure.
She expressed concern at the possibility that cashstrapped parents might revert to the practice of sending only boys to school, a practice the Government had discouraged through its education for all policy. A Bulawayo headmaster echoed Cde Toni’s sentiments. He said that with the high rate of pregnancies reported at schools, parents were likely to prefer sending only boys to school.
The headmaster however said the re-introduction of school fees might encourage parents to take a greater interest in their children’s school work.
“Generally when you get something for free, you are not as committed to its welfare as you would be if you were charged for it. Parents might now become interested in their children’s education”, he said. “The re-introduction of school fees would improve the quality of education, because classes would be smaller,” he said.