By Daniel Chigundu
Proportional Representation legislator Joyce Makonya left the National Assembly in stitches when she asked Primary and Secondary Education Minister whether it was still feasible for poor parents to pay school fees using livestock.
With most companies having closed shop in the country especially in the past decade most parents are struggling to raise money to pay school fees for their children resulting in them being sent home and missing quality education time in the process.
Those that have turned to vending are constantly having their wares taken away by municipal police, ZRP and soldiers such that it is difficult to raise school fees.
During his time as Education Minister Lazarus Dokora had indicated that it was possible that poor parents can be allowed to use their livestock to pay school fees.
Speaking during a question and answer session in the National Assembly, Honourable Makonya asked whether the policy was still in place in light of the current financial challenges being faced in the country.
“Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. What is Government policy regarding the problem faced by parents in raising the school fees?
“The previous Minister of Education had said parents may pay in any form, be it cattle, goats or even cars. Does that policy still exist where people can pay in cash or kind?
However, in his response Minister Paul Mavima said while livestock is money, but parents cannot drive their herd to school adding that they should instead sell and use the proceeds to pay school fees.
“Thank you very much Madam Speaker. Let me tell you and say, whenever we are talking of domestic animals, they are a form of cash and what we know is if you do have cattle, goats and sheep, you can sell these and get the cash to pay the fees for your children.
“I know that most of us who received their education in rural areas know that our parents used to pay school fees using cattle, goats and sheep and some would even brew beer for us to attain our education.
“As a result, we did not have that policy whereby we were saying parents or guardians can drive a herd of cattle to school and say I have come to pay the school fees but what we encourage is to sell that animal and take cash to school. I thank you,” he said.