The school term has just ended. Most parents now have to endure two months of agony as they anxiously wait for the results.
Education has become very expensive, but parents continue to pay whatever fees are required because of the love for their children. Some have to forego their meals, sell their cattle or whatever they can, to raise fees for their children.
Vacancies for jobs on the market are increasingly indicating not only the need for academic qualifications but the right qualifications. It now appears that the basic requirement for any good job is a degree. Added to that is also experience. Parents are therefore being forced to invest vast amounts in education. In fact, some would rather live in squalor while their children are being offered the right education.
Of course, there are some people who might argue, and rightly for that matter, that Zimbabweans are facing the problems because the type of education the country has is not suited for employment. We seem to be churning out useless school -leavers instead of tailoring their education for employment. The children themselves are brought up in an environment in which they are made to dislike bankable professions like farming, industrial work and anything menial. They are also taught to be workers throughout their lives and not to be creators of wealth or employers.
Whatever the case may be, some people are indeed capitalising on this need or quest for education. The Insider has learnt a very disturbing thing about today’s education. Teachers are reported to be deliberately trying to capitalise on this demand for better qualifications for our children. Sources say that while teachers are supposed to organise free classes in the afternoon for those pupils who wish to, or the so-called slow learners, they are in fact charging for giving these lessons. This is particularly prevalent in Harare.
In some other towns like Bulawayo, pupils who are weak in some subjects, can opt for afternoon lessons instead of having afternoon activities like sports, girl guides, boy scouts etc. But this does not stop them from engaging in such activities because the lessons are designed in such a way that the pupil can have both the lessons and the activities. They are just spread throughout the week. No fee is charged for this.
The trend in Harare, and other towns where there is fast life, is different. Teachers are reported to be charging for the “extra” lessons. Reports say they charge as much as $5.00 per child an hour. This may not look much but it translates to $10 a day per pupil, up to $50 a week for each child and if there are 30 in a class, which is normal, this translates to $1 500 a week, tax free. This is much more than the teacher is paid by the government as his or her monthly salary before any deductions have been made.
This would not have been bad if it was voluntary and parents were free to send their children or not. But teachers are writing poor reports to parents claiming that their children are slow-learners so they need this extra tuition. Even parents who are aware that their children are bright therefore end up paying because they are sort of being blackmailed into it. Arguing with the teacher might lead to ill-treatment or even neglect of the child’s class work.