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Zimbabwe's Opposition Protests School Fee Increases

In Zimbabwe, the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is condemning a hike in school fees at the tertiary level (colleges and universities). They say the move is another blow to an already battered education system that has failed to address the nation’s needs. Colleges reportedly increased their fees by over 100% this term, despite the low incomes of many students’ families.

A spokeswoman for the University of Zimbabwe, Taurwi mabeza, told the Herald newspaper in Harare that the cost increases are in line with the escalating cost of education in the country. For their part, private schools say raising prices is the only way to keep up with soaring rates of inflation, which recently hit 600 percent.

The MDC says it believes the right to higher education should not be a preserve of relatives and children of tycoons and dealers. In a press statement, the MDC says, ”The right to education is a right for every child. What the state-owned tertiary colleges are simply doing is to commercialize our children’s basic right to access quality education, which should help enhance national development.”

Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC. He told English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey ”We honestly believe that as the MDC and as a government in waiting, we have a better package to offer to Zimbabweans so far as tertiary education and education in general is concerned…. To have education in Zimbabwe being made a preserve of a few members of the elite, like what is happening with this government…a lot of people are being locked out of the premises of education, which is supposed to be a basic right, particularly in Africa, where we have historical circumstances.”

Reacting to whether the MDC has any substantive alternative, Chamisa said, “Our simple solution is that academic freedom had to be delivered to Zimbabweans and indeed students, particularly those children and students from very challenged social background. And we believe that it is a basic right that should never be compromised for political expedience.”