Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora yesterday said parents who paid Form One entrance examinations fees did so at their own peril as enrolment would be taking place tomorrow at all schools in the country.
Minister Dokora said entrance exams were banned by his ministry a long time ago and as such remained illegal. He said the ministry’s position was that no school has yet enrolled pupils for Form One next year.
“We’ve set December 4 as the day for enrolment of Form One pupils by all schools. Parents must take their children’s Grade Seven results to schools of their choice,” said Minister Dokora.
Asked what would happen to parents who are saying they paid entrance examinations fees, Minister Dokora said: “People must learn to follow orders. Entrance examinations are illegal. The law is clear that they were banned and whoever paid was doing an illegal thing.”
There has been confusion and panic among parents after the ministry last week announced that enrolment of Form One pupils would start tomorrow at all schools.
Concerned parents told The Chronicle that they had already paid for entrance tests and did not know whether they had to go again tomorrow with other parents.
“I paid $10 entrance examinations fees at each of the four schools where my child wrote an entrance test in order to secure a boarding place and now that the ministry has set a date what must we do as we had already secured places,” said a woman who identified herself as Mrs Bhebhe.
Another parent said he feared that there would be congestion and children whose passes were not good would be sidelined.
“It seems most children got good marks and we fear that those who didn’t do well will have to settle for the worst schools,” said another parent.
In a statement last week, Minister Dokora said this year’s enrolment had been set for December 4, but in future education authorities would provide dates.
The ministry noted that some schools were enrolling learners into Form One through application of their own entrance tests and assessment,” read the statement.
“The enrolment shall be on a working day, seven days after the Grade Seven results are officially announced by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) or as determined by the secretary every year. The 2016 Form one enrolment shall be Friday, 4 December 2015.”
This follows an outcry by parents over the cost of entrance tests that has seen parents paying the entrance test fees at a number of schools before finally getting a place.
School authorities were fleecing parents by inviting hundreds of pupils for entrance tests yet they had few places.
For example a school would invite 500 applicants for entrance tests at $20 each when it requires only 100 pupils.
Minister Dokora stated that the practice of entrance tests and non-refundable fees was “discriminatory”, adding that in response, government had issued a circular as part of comprehensive corrective measures.
“Representations have been received to the effect that parents were being subjected to unnecessary financial burden through the payment of the non-refundable entrance test fees or travelling from school to school,” he said.
“This practice is discriminatory and violates the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 of 2013 Section 563) and the Education Act Sections (4) 1) and 4) (2) (b).
“In response to these representations, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education produced the Secretary’s Circular Minute Number 13 of 2015, which provided guidelines on enrolment into Form One.
“Enrolment of learners into Form 1 shall be based on Grade 7 results and shall be conducted on a specific date each year across the country,” he said.
He added that parents and pupils were advised to identify and approach a school of their choice for Form One on the enrolment date.
“Heads of secondary schools should advise their District Education Officers within two days of the enrolment date of any shortfalls in Form 1 enrolment to facilitate advice to parents and pupils accordingly.
“Provincial Education Directors, District Education Officers, Heads of Secondary schools, Responsible Authorities, Church Education Secretaries, Teachers Associations, and Trust Schools must respect the letter and spirit of these guidelines,” said Minister Dokora.