‘Exam fees too high for rural learners’

By Fungai Jachi

LEGISLATORS have made a passionate plea for the government to intervene in the wake of revelations that most learners especially those in rural areas might fail to pay ZIMSEC examination fees which were increased recently.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education has raised concern over the new ZIMSEC examination fees with the capacity of rural learners to pay the fees being the major source of worry.

Chairperson of the Committee, Honourable Torerayi Moyo says government should intervene.

“We are concerned about the examination fees because they are exorbitant and many won’t afford them especially the rural learners. Government should intervene and direct for the reduction of the fees,” said Honourable Moyo.

“We risk learners not sitting for the exams and it will not look well for our education sector. We should remember that no one and no place should be left behind and these exam fees do not speak to that.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Tumisang Thabela, who gave oral evidence to the committee, acknowledged that the fees are too high but reassured the nation that government will ensure every candidate sits for examinations.

“The government remains committed to providing quality education to all and it is subsidising 55 percent of the total fees. Examinations are expensive to run and there are so many costs involved and also because of the hyper-inflation the fees had to be pegged in United States dollars but can still be paid in local currency,” she said.

“The government will ensure that every learner sits for their exams as we are committed to ensure that the right to education is upheld.”

ZIMSEC Director, Dr Lazarus Nembaware told the committee that the examination body is seized with exam preparations.

“We are trying to ensure that we do not encounter challenges in running the exams. There is a lot involved in preparing for examinations and reviewing the fees is a challenge.

“The deadline was set to avoid any loses for those who will be paying using local currency because if we do not do that we risk failure as the money might lose value,” he said.

Examination fees for Grade Seven have been pegged at 30 United States dollars while Ordinary Level examination fees for public schools are pegged at US$ 11 per subject, with government subsidising the examination cost by US$13 per subject.

Ordinary Level candidates in private schools, colleges and those writing as private candidates will pay an equivalent of US$24 per subject.

Advanced Level fees per subject for public schools are pegged at US$22, with government paying a subsidy of US$26, while private school candidates will fork out US$48 per subject.

The fees are expected to be paid between the 22nd and the 29th of July.