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Zimbabweans Stage Protests Over School Examination Fees

Some of the children who staged the protests seen today in Harare. (Photo: Irwin Chifera)

Hundreds of school children and their parents today staged a peaceful march in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, protesting against the government’s decision to introduce grade seven examination fees.

They were also not happy about the country’s move to increase Ordinary Level examination fees from $13 to $15 per subject, starting this year.

Those are some of the hundreds of school children and parents from all over the city, who marched from the Zimbabwe Human Right Association (ZimRights) offices, demanding that the government should drop its plans to introduce Grade 7 examination fees.

The placard-waving parents and children chanted revolutionary slogans and denounced Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora before handing a petition to his officials at the Harare provincial education offices.

Protest organizers said they were barred from marching to Dokora’s offices as it is closer to the defense headquarters and President Robert Mugabe’s offices.

ZimRights director, Okay Machisa, said they decided to stage this protest after realizing that most Zimbabweans are currently struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to fork out any more money to pay for new and hiked examination fees and related costs.

A parent participating in the demonstration, Admire Munava, said it’s unreasonable for Dokora to introduce Grade seven examination fees or increasing Ordinary Level fees when parents are facing serious economic hardships.

He said Dokora’s plans violate the constitution which compels government take appropriate measures to promote free and compulsory education for children.

Another protester, Michael Mabwe, concurred, saying President Mugabe should fire Dokora for allegedly failing the nation.

The minister has been criticized by most Zimbabweans for his plans, which many say will result in thousands of pupils failing to write Grade 7 examinations if his scheme is implemented. If Dokora gets his way, Grade 7 pupils will pay $3 per subject in their final examinations.

This will be the first time since independence that Grade 7 pupils will pay for final examinations. The Grade 7 certificate is used for securing a place in secondary schools.

Dokora refused to comment today referring all questions to the ministry’s spokesperson, only identified as a Mr. Zuma, whose mobile phone was switched off.

Parliament of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission were also petitioned by ZimRights, parents and the children.

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