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MPS ORDER MINISTER: STOP 2020 SCHOOL FEES PAYMENT

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LOBAMBA – The Minister of Education and Training, Lady Mabuza, has up until 5pm today to halt, with immediate effect, the payment of the 2020 outstanding school fees and to further order the reimbursement of the payment already made by parents.

This follows the passing of a motion of urgent public importance which was moved by Deputy Speaker Phila Buthelezi. The motion, which was seconded by Shiselweni MP Strydom Mpandza, was resoundingly supported by a majority of the MPs. The minister was given 24 hours to comply with the motion or else the legislators promised that they would move a motion to ask the country’s authorities to remove her from her position as Education and Training minister. It was around 4:15pm when the deputy Speaker, who is also Matsanjeni North MP, said the ministry should be stopped from the act of making parents and guardians to pay last year’s fees, especially for those pupils who had no sat for external examinations.

Deposits

Giving a background of the matter, MP Buthelezi said it was common cause that at the beginning of each academic year, parents were made to pay deposits, which at least covered the first term fees. He said last year, pupils had only been in class for five weeks before government closed schools following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that there was no way that the parents should be made to pay because there had been no schools opened for the rest of the year. The affected classes are those from Grade I to Grade VI and Forms I, II and IV. MP Buthelezi said there was no justification for parents to be made to pay the fees because children were at home.

Arrogantly

“Instead, the same minister says arrogantly that the children were learning on radio and other means of media,” said MP Buthelezi. He wondered whose radio the pupils had been using and in vernacular he said ‘yabani leradio’. The MP said he had tried in vain to engage both the minister and the Principal Secretary Bertram Stewart and other officials, but they remained arrogant and did not want to listen to voice of reason. “As we speak, some parents have failed to register their children for the current academic year, which is supposed to begin next week because the head teachers had stated that there was an instruction from the ministry that they should demand last year’s outstanding fees first. MP Buthelezi said the ministry was basically instructing parents to give the head teachers money so that they could go and entertain (bayotitika) themselves. He stated that the ministry had reported that there were about 300 000 pupils affected and with average fees being E3 000, including top-ups, they were basically giving about E180 million to head teachers.

Accountable

“Auditors are coming for the head teachers and they will need to be accountable as to where the money was spent, which practicals and extramural activities were undertaken including chalks and toners used for their photocopying machines or printers,” said Buthelezi. The MP, who was emotionally charged, said just last week, he had paid E26 000 for his two children at a public school which was a similar amount he had paid in the first term with about E7 000 outstanding. He wondered if all that money had been used by the school.

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