The bulk of schools in Zimbabwe have pegged their third term fees in USD although parents still have the option to pay at the prevailing USD rate on the day they make payment. Schools feel this will allow them to stop some parents from taking advantage of rate movements by paying their child’s fees as late as possible. A few schools have two separate fees where parents can pay either pay in USD or ZWL. Those that pay in ZWL do so knowing that at some future date they might be asked to pay topup fees. Very schools are charging exclusively in USD. These have drawn the ire of the government.

Government policy clearly states that payment can be made in either USD or RTGS at the prevailing interbank bank rate. Those that are demanding exclusive US$ payment must know it’s a criminal offence that warrants an arrest.

The ministry is also aware of schools that are saying if parents pay in RTGS there is going to be a top up midterm. School authorities cannot simply call for a top up without the approval of the ministry. It is illegal and if that happens parents need to report to the ministry so that the school is brought to book.

Ministry of Education Spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro

It’s not hard to understand why some schools are doing this. The United States Dollar is relatively stable. Last term a lot of boarding schools ran out of supplies and parents were asked to topup as Zimbabwean Dollar prices spiralled out of control and the Zimbabwean dollar lost value against the US dollar. Currently the Zimbabwean dollar has been relatively stable on the black market although shops and businesses are still using rates that are higher.

It is also not hard to hard to understand why parents are incensed by schools demanding payment exclusively in USD. A lot of employed people in Zimbabwe earn only in Zimbabwean dollars. Some earn part of their salaries in ZWL and part of it in USD. This ironically includes teachers who are civil servants and those employed by the public service. It is therefore rather strange that one of the groups affected by this ,teachers, are the ones in charge of schools and fees payment of fees. Parents are also unhappy with the ongoing feud between teachers and their employer the government. A number of teachers are now said to be demanding extra-lesson fees from their student’s parents.