ZIMSEC Sued For Discrimination Against Candidates Enrolled At Private Colleges
A parent from Masvingo has sued the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) and the Government for discriminating against her child enrolled at a private school in the payment of examination fees.
The parent, Susan Chikwanda of Jerera in Masvingo province, has two children, one aged 13 who is enrolled in Grade Seven, and the other who is aged 16 who is enrolled in Form Four.
In an application filed at Masvingo High Court on 28 April, Chikwanda said the Government was in breach of the right to education as enshrined in the Constitution.
In a circular dated 31 January 2023, ZIMSEC announced that the Government would be subsidising the 2023 Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examination fees for candidates only in public schools, local authority schools and mission schools.
Chikwanda is represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer Paida Saurombe.
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She argued that the Government was arbitrarily segregating underprivileged children from benefitting from government subsidies in the payment of examination fees for Grade Seven, Ordinary Level and Advanced Level studies.
She wants the court to declare the Government’s decision to subsidise examination fees for 2023 Grade Seven, Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examination candidates in public schools, local authority schools and mission schools at the exclusion of candidates in private schools and colleges, including private candidates in public schools, invalid and in breach of the constitutional protection to equality and the right to education enshrined in the Constitution. ZLHR said in a statement:
She argued that her two children both come from the same home and are financed from the same less privileged and economically weak pocket.
Besides that one of them is learning at a government-run school and the other one at a private college, there is nothing else that differentiates their economic and social status and they both eat from the same plate and are clothed for school from the same source.
The Masvingo-based woman said she is concerned that government had made a decision to benefit one of her minor child by subsidising the exam fee but have the older minor child pay the full examination fee and yet the money that government is using to subsidise the examination fees for candidates in public schools including mission schools is coming from the same fiscus that all citizens pay taxes into.
She argued that when tax is collected, there is no question asked regarding which school one’s child attends but when benefits are being extended, the government has taken a decision to differentiate students based on the schools that they attend.
… She charged that this is not a fair discrimination and cannot be justifiable in a free and democratic society that has the rule of law and constitutionalism as its tenets of justice and that such unfair discrimination inadvertently results in candidates like her older minor child, who is enrolled in private college’s right to education being infringed.
Chikwanda’s older minor child, who has been studying eight subjects is required to pay total examination fees of US$192 and yet if she was going to benefit from the subsidy, she would have been paying US$88.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing and determination.
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