PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka
SCHOOL administrators at Mununga Primary School in Mpika have been directed to reimburse the K100s levied to pupils against Government policy of free basic education between grades one and seven.
The Ministry of General Education has since warned teachers to desist from demanding school fees from primary school pupils because it is against Government policy.
In the Mununga Primary School case, Mr Hillary Chipango said the Ministry of General Education instituted investigations after receiving reports from concerned members of the public that the head teacher was requesting parents to pay K100 as school feels for their children.
In an interview, Mr Chipango said the Mpika development was unfortunate and will not be tolerated as it disadvantages vulnerable people in Zambia from accessing basic education.
â€œWe are not happy with the development. We instituted investigations in the matter and what has come out is that the school administration did not consult parents before requesting them to pay the K100. The situation also affected the performance of the children at school,â€ he said.
Mr Chipango said the head teacher was summoned by the district education authorities to exculpate himself from the said allegations.
And when he was found culpable for levying the pupils, the school manager was ordered to reimburse the money collected from the parents in the district.
Generally, members of the public have complained about some school administrators covertly levying pupils after the Patriotic Front abolished school fees between grades one and seven as a way of achieving universal primary education.
In certain cases, the pupils are charged through uniforms that they are compelled to buy in schools or in form of high Parent Teacher Association (PTA) contributions.
Mr Chipango has since warned management in public schools to stop charging parents and allow pupils to enjoy their right to education.
He said should a school need to raise money through the PTA for certain projects, they need clearance from the provincial educational officer.
Mr Chipango has also cautioned government schools against forcing parents to buy uniforms in schools.
He has appealed to parents and guardians to report any school where school authorities obligate them to buy uniforms from them.
â€œA school place should not be given with an attachment. Parents should be free to buy uniforms from any cheaper source. Any teacher engaging in such activities will be reprimanded,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Chipango said the Ministry of General Education has made steady progress in investigating the alleged sexual harassment of pupils at Kasama Girls Secondary School.
He said the investigations have been extended to other schools across the country and that a comprehensive report will be issued once the process is completed.
Three teachers, a watchman and cook have been suspended from work at the school to facilitate investigations.
PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka