MORGENSTER Teachers College in Masvingo has made history by becoming the first institution of higher learning to dismiss trainee teachers for owing fees with reports that some students were sent home for owing as little as $4.
The Masvingo-based college opened on 25 September for the third and final term of the year and last week sent home more than half of the students for owing fees. Sunday News also learnt that one of the students died in a car accident on her way to Mutare after she was turned away from college over fees arrears.
Some of the affected students who spoke to Sunday News on condition of anonymity said authorities at the college were in an uncompromising mood barring students who owed from getting access into the college premises. The students said authorities at the institution flatly refused to negotiate payment plans with students, some of whom had paid more than three quarters of the fees. Most of the students who had made part payments of their fees said they were hoping to pay the outstanding balance at the end of October but the institution refused.
“What happened is one had to be cleared first before admission. So those who were in arrears were sent home immediately regardless of how little you owe. I owe about $70 and I tried to negotiate but was told to pay the money in full for me to attend lectures and be allocated a room in the hall of residence. Someone was even sent home for owing $4,” said one of the students.
Most of the affected students said they would only be able to clear their arrears by the end of October.
“By then (October) we will be just a month away from examinations. All this while we are at home we are missing out on lectures and catching up will be difficult,” said another student.
Efforts to get a comment from the college principal Mrs Raviro Chipato were fruitless as she could not be reached. The college accountant, Mr Tauya Godzamutsipa, declined to comment.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the ministry was yet to receive any reports on the developments at college.Dr Gandawa, however, said tertiary institutions should give students seven days after opening to settle their fees arrears.
“After the seven days and they (students) still can’t settle the arrears in full then they can come up with payment plans, which they must honour. The regulations are clear on what should be done and colleges must adhere to that. The idea should not be to chase away students. We all understand how difficult it is to get money but students should also make an effort to pay for institutions to run efficiently,” said Dr Gandawa.
The students also contend that the $580 per term fees being charged by the college is too high and should be reviewed.