The Chief Education officer of the Western District region that covers Ngamiland, which was recently struck by an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, Osina Lufu Maunganidze, says that payments of school fees have not been adversely affected by the outbreak of the disease as some have been suggesting would be the case.
According to Maunganidze, students all over the region have so far been paying at the normal rate and she thinks this positive trend will continue.
“The statistics I have received from the areas I cover indicate that payments are coming in at the normal rate and it is my wish that they will continue the trend,” she said.
Maunganidze says that they will be assessing the cases and that students who fail to pay and claim that they can not do so because of the outbreak of the disease will be referred to social workers who will assess their different cases and see if such claims are genuine and that if the case is genuine the student will not be made to pay.
”We work with social workers who assess such cases and if they tell us that such a student’s case is genuine, the student will be exempted from paying school fees in accordance with government policy on education that no student with a genuine case of being destitute should be ordered back home because he can not pay school fees,” she said.
On the issue of the 40 Maun Secondary School students that they intend to send home because they failed to pay school fees last year, Maunganidze said that the report is true and that a painful decision will have to be taken because all other options have failed.
She denies that this case has anything to do with the outbreak of the disease since it happened last year when there was no outbreak.
“These students failed to pay their school fees last year, not this year, so I do not see how it can be connected to this issue now,” she said.
Maunganidze’s position on this issue is similar to that of the Ministry of Education’s Public Relations officer, Nomsa Zuze, who last week said that there will be no overall exemption because of the outbreak of the disease and that cases will be assessed on their merit.
Some parents in Ngamiland, as well as politicians, have been arguing that students in Ngamiland be exempted from paying school fees for their children because of the FMD outbreak.
This, they argued, was the case because their livelihoods depend on cattle sales, which have now been stopped because of the outbreak.