Educators have pleaded with the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) to extend the examinations registration deadline amid reports that thousands of parents and guardians are struggling to raise the fees.
ZIMSEC opened registration for Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations for this year from July 22 to 29.
Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni on Wednesday told NewsDay that thousands of pupils may fail to write examinations this year if ZIMSEC sticks to the Friday deadline. He said:
The situation is dire as parents are failing to afford the fees. There is a need for ZIMSEC to be considerate and extend the deadline.
That is one possible solution since the cry for the fees to be reduced was not taken heed of.
The prevailing economic environment has affected consumer spending and parents are struggling to make ends meet, let alone raise the thousands of dollars required for a child to register for the examinations.
Some candidates had not yet paid their fees and schools are demanding that they clear their fees first before they can be able to register, which makes the situation even more complicated for those parents who are rushing to meet the deadline.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou concurred with Majoni on the need to extend the registration deadline. Said Zhou:
There is no need to rush with the registration deadline. Pupils need at least a month for them to secure the funds that are required. The exam fees are exorbitant and beyond affordability.
According to a random survey that we have conducted, about half of the eligible registrants had not yet managed to register by yesterday and the chances that the other half will raise the funds in two days are slim.
It is clear that if the examination board sticks to its initial deadline many pupils will be left out.
We are seeing parents who are forking out up to $83 000 for their children to register more than the seven subjects that are subsidised and it’s beyond the affordability of many.
The ZIMSEC examination fees are payable in United States dollars or the equivalent in Zimbabwe dollars at a rate of US$1:$455.
Grade 7 learners will pay US$10 for all subjects, while O and A Level students are paying US$11 and US$22 for the first seven and three subjects per subject, respectively, following a 55% government subsidy for public, local authority and not-for-profit mission schools.
O and A Level students will pay the full amounts of US$24 and US$48 for each extra subject thereafter.
Grade 6 pupils are also required to pay the recently introduced ZIMSEC termly examination fees of US$5.