Students cry foul as UZ increases tuition fees

UZ students are struggling to finance their education

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
20 February 2014

The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has raised tuition fees, sparking an outcry from the students, most of whom were already struggling to finance their education.

The Students Solidarity Trust (SST) said the UZ, which opens next Monday for its first 2014 semester, has increased tuition fees by 10 percent. The Trust said the increment is ‘unjustified and ill-advised’ and has left the students ‘extremely shocked and hamstrung.’

A statement from the Trust said social science students, who used to pay $450, will now pay $502 per semester. According to the statement medical students are the most affected as they are now expected to pay ‘more than $700’ after the fees were increased by about $90. On top of that students who are resident on campus will be expected to fork out more for food and accommodation, the Trust said.

The statement added that, ‘only the elite will now access’ education.

The Trust which described the increment as ‘illegal’ said it believes the rise in tuition fees was calculated to benefit lecturers, whose marking fees are set to be increased. SST director, Simbarashe Moyo, said the student organizations are consulting on the way forward. He said: ‘We hope to find ways in which we can reverse this increment because we feel it is not the time to increase fees since most of our parents are poor.’

This development comes at a time when the state of education in the country is gloomy. A Thursday NewsDay report said only 470,000 out of more than three million who sat for Ordinary Level in the last 14 years had passed. According to the report only 50,000 pupils passed each year during that period.

Godwin Phiri who is a director at Intsha, an organization that specializes in youth development, said the decline in education was apparent. He said: ‘Across the country, its one way and that is decline. It all boils down to poor funding, brain drain, infrastructural decline and political uncertainty.’ Phiri said most of the pupils they have spoken to complain of a ‘clear lack of commitment among the teachers.’

A commission led by Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga, and which was appointed by President Mugabe to look into the problems of education, sounded the alarm bells as far back as 1999. Among other things the commission warned of were an irrelevant curriculum, poor administration and poor teaching standards.

Subsequent research carried out by the National Advisory Board, and funded by the European Union, agreed with the commission’s findings. The research found that about 70,000 teachers fled their jobs between 2000 and 2008 due to political violence.

It was only in December last year that ZANU PF ‘adopted a resolution’ on the Nziramasanga commission’s findings of 15 years ago. But they have still done nothing to implement any changes.

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