AS Zimbabweans are already geared up for the festive season, a number of parents whose children are enrolled at private schools will most likely have a gloomy festive season, as some schools have already announced new increased school fees for the 2021 first term.
The news undoubtedly comes as a shock, as most parents with children attending these private schools that are in the habit of increasing fees are not even earning their salaries in the US dollar, but the local currency.
For instance, this paper received a letter from a concerned parent, which was on a Melbourne Private Primary School letterhead, informing parents of the new fees pegged at US$280, which is equivalent to ZW$22.876 (basing on the current Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Exchange rate which is US$1: ZW$81.7) tuition for pupils in Grades 3 – 7, according to the circular addressed to parents and guardians.
Many parents, including those with children from the school, are in a panic mood, while at the same time frustrated by the move to increase fees.
If the situation goes unchecked, the development at Melbourne could trigger a trend that would see many private schools following suit, as has become the norm in Zimbabwe.
Authorities should, however, be seen taking a stand to protect parents and guardians because as it is, the current economic situation has maintained a certain trend, as the value of the Zimbabwean currency has not deteriorated to unprecedented heights since the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube introduced the Zimbabwe Foreign Exchange Auction.
The black market has been checked and is mostly relying on the RBZ’s forex exchange platform for rates, a scenario that could soon render the parallel market useless to citizens.
Hence, schools, whether they are charging in US dollars or local currency, there is simply no valid reason for increasing tuition fees.