Parents who cannot raise tuition fees for children can offer livestock in lieu of payment or do chores for learning institutions, a Cabinet minister has said.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said over the weekend that school authorities should be flexible and not turn away pupils because their parents have no money to pay tuition fees.
“Our schools have to be flexible and ensure those who do not have money to pay fees can work. For example, if there is a builder in the community, he/she must be given that opportunity to work as a form of payment of tuition fees,” he told local newspaper Sunday Mail.
This was further elaborated by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango who was quoted by the newspaper saying payment using livestock is reserved for rural areas while those in towns and cities can pay by working for the school.
This option raised divergent views from parents while the country’s teachers’ association called for a change in the policy.
“I do not think that it’s sustainable with regards to parents in urban areas … so many parents have outstanding balances. Therefore, I am trying to imagine those 1 000-plus parents coming to work at a school … Why spend time doing manual labour at a school when they can go there to look for a good job?” Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general John Mlilo was quoted.
A ministry official clarified Dr Dokora’s comments: “Parents of the concerned children can pay the fees using livestock. That is mostly for rural areas, but parents in towns and cities can pay through other means; for instance, doing certain work for the school.”
It follows a move last week where Zimbabwe allowed people to use their livestock, such as goats, cows and sheep, to back bank loans. Under legislation introduced in parliament this week, borrowers would be allowed to register “movable” assets, including motor vehicles and machinery, as collateral, the BBC’s World Business Report said.
According to the Bulawayo24 news portal, Zimbabwe’s worsening cash crisis means that people frequently spend hours queueing at banks to withdraw cash. The government says the shortage is due to people taking hard currency out of the country, but critics say it’s due to lack of investment and rising unemployment, Bulawayo24 says.
This development follows the recent tabling of a bill in parliament to direct banks to accept livestock as collateral for cash loans to informal businesses.
The Movable Property Security Interests bill, if passed, will allow livestock and household appliances to be acceptable as collateral after evaluation and registration by the central bank.
Cash shortages hit Zimbabwe last year after the government threatened to grab all foreign companies operating in the country under the Indigenisation and Empowerment Law.
Banks in Zimbabwe were compelled to reduce withdrawal bank limits for customers to as low as US$40 per day per individual.
This has led to hundreds of ordinary Zimbabweans sleeping outside banks daily to get the much needed cash.
Zimbabweans and other Africans took to Twitter to express their opinions about the livestock-for-school-fees plan.
— Atulinda Allan🇺🇬 (@Atulinda_Allan) April 16, 2017
— Innocent Mazombwe (@imazombwe) April 17, 2017
So when the government says you can pay school fees with goat's in Zimbabwe, will they build a large kraal 4 all the goats 😂😂😂😅 @702Aubrey
— 🌹Funanani🌹 (@funatjie) April 16, 2017
@kryzedj @SaintValz @DearAngelbert we need to buy data in goat currency as well Zimbabwe jus became niiiice 😎😎
— Sukuzukuduma kaBaba (@keithmoyoZW) April 16, 2017
— Mwine (@mwineedgar) April 16, 2017
What we understand by this new goat currency:
Left: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Right: Reserve bank of Zambia pic.twitter.com/6B0gtQMHH7
— Mutsenga_vat 🇿🇼🇰🇪 (@chewater) April 16, 2017