JUNIOR Parliamentarians have petitioned the Government to consider reducing the examination fees which were hiked by more than 1 200 percent by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) last week.
In an interview yesterday, Junior Member of Parliament who is also the Junior Minister of Youth, Sports Arts and Recreation Tinashe Ngirandi said Zimsec should have consulted widely on the issue.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) 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.
He said the new examination fees will result in many pupils failing to sit for examinations.
“Last year I was in Shurugwi where I saw many pupils struggling to pay for five subjects when the fees were at $15. Imagine what would be the situation now that the fees have been increased by such margins.
“More children won’t sit for the examinations. How can they afford to pay that kind of money when they are struggling to pay school fees of $130 per term,” he said.
The Junior MP said Zimsec should have consulted children’s organizations before increasing the examination fees.
“As the Junior Parliament these are the issues that were supposed to be brought to us for discussion before Zimsec increased the fees,” said Ngirandi.
In their petition, the Junior MPs said they were against the new fees and called on the Ministry to intervene.
“Junior Parliament and Council are not supporting these fees and we are therefore asking the Ministry to review them considering section 81 subsection (1) paragraph (f) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Looking towards a favorable response before the end of the week,” read the petition.
Last week Zimsec 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.
Meanwhile, Zimsec Board Chairman, Professor Eddie Mwenje defended the new development saying it was cost-driven and they approved it after getting the necessary justification from the examination board’s management.
“Yes, the examination fees were reviewed. This comes after we did not review the last year. It is an expense to run an examination and we are cognizant of the fact that children should have a right to education,” he said.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Mathema could not comment saying he was yet to receive the petition from Junior MPs.
“I have not yet received the petition you are talking about,” he said.