Parents have been shocked , stressed out and desperate after receiving letters demanding for additional payments (top-ups) which are double what they had initially paid at the beginning of the term. Hillcrest College usually charges a total of about $3200.00 USD per term for tuition and boarding fee, so most of the parents had already paid about $3000.00 USD at the beginning of the term and now Hillcrest College is demanding an additional top up amount of over $3,000.00 USD.
How they are trying to pull off this scam is really shocking. Despite the repeated warnings by the government to the private/trust schools to follow the schools' calendar issued by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. Hillcrest College managed to come up with a dubious way of scamming parents by offering Online lessons to students during the lockdown and calling it term 2 (second term). For this term 2, they are demanding $1,350.00 USD. Hillcrest College went ahead and increased their fees despite the government warning private schools not to increase school fees without the government approval. In a letter to parents dated 23 September 2021 signed by the Principal Orlando Fernandes, Hillcrest College is demanding $2,107.00 for day scholars for a new term they are calling 3rd term.
Parents with their children as boarders, are being asked to pay an additional $2,737.00 as a boarding fee which is a whopping 88% increase from the previous term.
For parents with their children as boarders, they will have to pay a total of $6,194.00 per child ($1,350+$2,107+$2,737) per term and this is the amount they usually pay for 2 terms but they are now being forced to pay that for one term of learning. After carefully analysing what this Hillcrest College is doing, they are trying to force/scam parents to pay for an additional term that doesn't exist by increasing the fees by almost 100% because on average, every term parents usually pay about $3,000.00 USD but now they will have to pay over $6,194.00 USD.
All this is done despite the press release issued by the government on 9 September 2021 warning all private schools to charge approved fees and not to increase school fees.
PRESS RELEASE-SCHOOL FEES ADJUSTMENTS
9 September, 2021
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would like to advise its valued stakeholders that non-Government schools which are increasing fees and charging levies without consulting parents or getting permission from the Ministry's Permanent Secretary will attract severe penalties.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education therefore, warns all responsible authorities that they charge approved fees and levies.
Section 21 of the Education Act (Chapter 25:0) as amended, provides that:
"(1) No responsible authority shall-
(a) charge any fee or levy; or
(b) increase any fee or levy;
in respect of any people attending a non-Government school, unless the fee or levy or increase therein, as the case may be, has been approved by the Secretary.
The Permanent Secretary shall not approve any increase of fees or levies sought in respect of the next term of the non-Governement school concerned unless-(a) the increase of such fees and levies are justified by reference to some basis other than the application of the the consumer price index; and (b) the proposal to increase fees or levies has been approved by a majority of the parents at a meeting of the School Parents Assembly attended by not less than twenty per centum of the parents.``
From the above quoted sections of the Education Act, any fees and levies charged by all non-Governement schools should be approved by the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education. It is worth noting that non-compliance with this law is a criminal offence as provided for in terms of Section 21 sub section (6) which provides that:
"Any person who contravenes this section or fails to comply with any notice in terms of subsection (5) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine equivalent to the excess amount charged or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment."
It is therefore imperative that Responsible Authorities follow proper procedures highlighted above in increasing fees and levies.
Schools that had charged unapproved fees and levies should revert back to approved fees and reimburse parents accordingly.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continues to strive to provide quality, relevant, inclusive, equitable and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans.
MRS TUMISANG THABELA
SECRETARY FOR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
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