This year’s school calendar has become somewhat compressed due to the COVID induced lockdown we experienced just before the first term school opening which led to a delayed opening. This means parents of school going kids are in a tough spot when it comes to the time they have to raise fees for their children as terms are now closer to each other. Parents of students who attend the elite Falcon College in Zimbabwe are in for a tough time however as the school has hiked its fees to $ 1 290 000 ZWL (or about US$ 3970 at current black market rates).

Dear Falcon Parents,

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all those Parents who either attended or sent proxies to the School Fee proposal meeting which was conducted by Mr John McTaggart at the College in the Turner Hall on Wednesday morning during the completion of Founders’ Day.

Without Parental support, it would be very difficult for the College to maintain the high standard of education to which we have all become accustomed.

We had an overwhelming vote in favour of the proposal, which is outlined below:

The fee for the Second Term has been set at Z$ 1 290 000. This is to cover the period from May through to the end of August.

Please note, as always, clearance certificates will be required for entry to the College at the beginning of the term.

Unfortunately, given the difficulty in accurately forecasting inflation trends, especially given the recent volatility, parents should note that we may have to raise a further fee by way of a top-up.

Those parents who wish to pay the fee in US$ will be exempted from any top-up. If this option is of interest to you please see either Mr Alistair Speirs at the Bulawayo office or Mr John McTaggart at Falcon to discuss this.

The letter from Falcon to parents

Shunning ZWL

Although the government has made it mandatory to use the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWL) few school institutions like using it as it is constantly losing value against the USD, the main currency preferred by businesses when selling. This means that while parents are being asked to pay a million now that money eventually loses value. This is the reason why the letter is implying that those who choose to pay in ZWL will almost certainly be asked to pay a top-up.

To streetwise parents, the contents of the letter are quite clear. If you intend to pay your fees in ZWL you are better off going to the black market, exchanging that ZWL for USD, and paying us using USD which is more stable. If you are too lazy or afraid to do that you will eventually be asked to pay more when your useless ZWL fees inevitably lose their value. You have been warned. This is a not so subtle whistling that those with kids at this school are going to heed.

While a lot of the commentary doing rounds on social media is negative Falcon is likely to just shake this negative sentiment like water off a duck’s back. This is not the first time they have made headlines over the fees issue and in any case they are just saying what is on every school headmaster’s mind anyway. In fact, as things get tougher financially expect more schools to be just as brazen. They will demand a stable currency rather than have to deal with the roller-coaster world of ZWL where the value is constantly changing in line with inflation and black market exchange rates. A lot of “poorer” schools are not doing this publicly yet because the government would come down hard on them. Them demanding USD will ultimately mean teachers and other civil servants demanding USD too. The government has been resisting paying civil servants in USD for the longest time and it’s the main reason they keep pretending de-dollaristion is working even when it’s clearly not.