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Zimbabweans Seeking High Interest Loans to Pay School Fees

FILE: Some of the children and parents who staged protests over school fees seen recently in Harare. (Photo: Irwin Chifera)

Schools open for the third term in Zimbabwe tomorrow with most parents resorting to getting money from loan sharks following massive job loses in the country.

Parents of school-going children in Mutare, Gwanda, Harare and Bulawayo who spoke to Studio 7, said they are struggling to pay fees and related education costs, which remained unchanged this term in most schools.

Two of the parents, Bernard Samuriwo of Mutare and Bekezela Maduma of Gwanda, said the situation looks bleak for most children who may fail to attend lessons due to unpaid school fees.

Samuriwo said, “The situation is not looking good. I have two children at school, one in a government school and another at a private school. We are not paying much at the government school but I have to look to $500 to pay fees for the one at a private school. It’s really hard to get the American dollar here.”

He noted that millions of other parents are expected to struggle to pay fees as they recently lost their jobs owing to the current harsh economic environment and the recent Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to sack workers without giving them benefits.

There is a new law now compelling employers to compensate fired workers.

Maduma also told VOA Studio 7 parents are not sure how school authorities will handle children that have not yet paid fees.

“The people who are thriving on the plight of parents are loan sharks and all these other people that lend money. It looks like that’s how people are going to make it to school,” he said.

Thousands of school children are on a state-sanctioned financially-crippled program – the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) – designed to cater for the needs of poor children.

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