Education Minister David Coltart has warned schools not to turn away pupils from writing Ordinary and Advanced Level exams over non-payment of examination fees.
“Our policy is very clear,” said Coltart adding that “we’ve said that all children that are eligible to write O and A level exams should be allowed to do so.”
The minister spoke after parents stormed St. Peters Kubatana High School in Highfield on Tuesday and allegedly manhandled the deputy headmaster Simbarashe Mavetera for preventing some pupils from writing the O Level Shona paper.
Coltart said this is not the first time that he has heard that headmasters are preventing pupils from writing exams because of non-payment of fees, warning that school authorities caught doing this will be in breach of government policy and will face disciplinary action.
However, he also said parents should not take matters into their own hands.
Interview With David Coltart
Zimbabwe’s education minister has faced criticism following a number of problems ranging from disputes between the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC), teachers, parents and pupils.
Recent woes at ZIMSEC include 13 lost exam papers in Matabeleland North Province after an acting headmaster reportedly misplaced them after picking them up in Bulawayo.
It has cost the ministry at least $850,000 to reset the exams.
Also ethical issues over cheating, have raised questions on the role and competency of staff at the examination authority.
VOA spoke with Takavafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe, and Felix Magalela Sibanda, a lawmaker and member of the parliamentary committee on education.
Sibanda said the ministry of education is to blame for the failing education system. “I respect Honorable Coltart but he is a novice in the education system."
Panel With Felix Sibanda and Takavafira Zhou
Meanwhile, the ministry has ordered teachers from Ndangababi Primary School in Dete, Matabeleland North, to return to work Friday after traditional leaders reported that they have conducted traditional rituals to cleanse the school of “goblins” that have been terrorizing teachers and pupils.
Matabeleland North deputy provincial education director Jabulani Mpofu said his ministry asked traditional leaders in Dete Village to cleanse the school after receiving complaints from the teachers, who fled the school last week, leaving 600 students stranded, at a time when schools are preparing for end of year examinations.
PTUZ Matabeland North coordinator Never Nyahunzvi said the education ministry should close the school indefinitely because teachers are not convinced the problem has been solved.
Ministry officials said they believed the traditional leaders have solved the problem.