THE recent decision by the national examinations board — Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) — to hike examination fees by more than 1 200 per cent has sparked an outcry among stakeholders in the education sector amid fears that the hike will disenfranchise some candidates from poor families.
Zimsec last week increased examination fees to $190 per subject from $15 for Ordinary Level candidates and $351 per subject from $26 for Advanced Level candidates.
The $190 per subject for ‘O’ Level will apply to both public and private candidates and the same applies to ‘A’ Level fees.
Closing dates for payments and submission of entries for June examinations is February 28 while the closing date for November is March 27.
Late entries will close on May 15.
A snap survey conducted by The Manica Post this week revealed that parents, prospective students and the Junior Parliament were against the move by examinations body.
They said the move does not resonate with the economic reality on the ground where disposable incomes for most of the gainfully employed and those in the informal sector diswere already depleted.
Fears also abound that a significant number of candidates from rural schools might find paying exam fees tough.
“I am a vendor and my daughter is in Form 4. I will need at least $2 000 for her to write the 10 subjects. She has been working on these subjects for the past four years and I now wonder where on earth will I get that kind of money by the end of the month to pay for her?” queried a parent who refused to be named.
Mr Maxwell Muchato, who is employed as a gardener, lamented the sudden increase of exam fees by Zimsec saying his son would be forced to drop some of his the subjects he intended to write.
“I only earn $200 per month, and I will not be able to pay for all the seven subjects that my son is doing. He will have to drop two or three of his subjects. This really pains me, but honestly speaking there is nothing I can do about it because that $200 cannot even suffice for all of the family’s needs,” said Mr Muchato.
However, some parents demanded that the fees either be reviewed downwards or they be given more time pay.
“I think a review is needed or at least if they should extend the deadline, to give us more time to run around and raise the money,” said Mr Buxton Kupfuyawanza.
Junior Member of Parliament, who is also the Junior Minister of Youth, Sport Arts and Recreation Tinashe Ngirandi, said Zimsec should have consulted widely on the issue.
“As the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe, we petitioned the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to reduce examination fees that were set by Zimsec because they are unreasonable and beyond the reach of many. The new structure of exam fees is an infringement on the Zimbabweans’ right to education,” said Ngirandi.