By Lerato Ndhlovu
Teachers unions, parents and students’ guardians have cried foul over the recent exam fee hike by The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC).
A number of locals have described the exorbitant fees as putting education out of the reach of many as they can barely afford to pay it.
Examination fees were increased to $190 each subject from $15 for Ordinary Level candidates and $351 from $26 for Advanced Level candidates for both public and private candidates.
Foreign candidates are required to pay $443 to register for an O’ Level subject while the amendment fees for a subject at O’ Level is now pegged at $89, the addition of a new subject now costs $228.
Late entry will now attract a further $228 for learners while centres that will submit late entries will be charged $810.
A’ Level candidates will pay an extra $324 for Communication Skills while foreign candidates will pay $717 per subject.
To amend a subject at A’ Level, candidates will pay an extra $162, while those who intend to add another subject will pay an extra $432.
Closing dates for payments and submission of entries for June examinations is February 28, while the closing date for November is March 27 and late entries will close on May 15.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) expressed its dissatisfaction over the gazetted fees saying salaries have not changed and the unemployment rate is high so a few students will be able to register for the exams.
“ZIMSEC has joined the bandwagon of service providers who are indexing prices of their services to the interbank rates when it is common knowledge that the majority of our people cannot afford the pronounced punitive examination fees.
“Salaries have remained stagnant and rate of unemployment is at a peak, this examination fees regime is a sure way of barring the poor from accessing education for they are beyond the reach of the few employed citizens and are definitely a nightmare for the majority who are unemployed and peasants.”
The union went on to say that denying citizens the rightful education can also mean the end of economic development hence the government must subsidize and assume its constitutional mandate of funding education.
With most learners now opting to write as many as 15 subjects at O’ Level, parents have to fork out about $3 000 inclusive of the centre fees, which usually vary depending on the examination centre.
Speaking to Bustop TV some parents with children in exam classes said the fees were unjustified and urged the Government to address the issues before the majority of the students drop out of school.
“The examination fee per subject is above the amount we pay for tuition at some of the government institutions per term and we are struggling to pay that little amount only to get this ZIMSEC shocker,” a disgruntled parent said.
“Do they want us to pull our children out of school because we cannot and never afford such amounts, where do we get the money from”.
“The salary I get is not enough for me and my family to fend on, we are failing to afford the stated normal luxuries then ZIMSEC brings this shocker of high examination rates and short time to raise and pay these high amounts worse when we are recovering from the so-called January disease,” lamented another one.