Thousands of Zimbabwean ordinary and "A" level students could be prevented from taking completion exams this year because they cannot afford to pay the fees. 

The education system charges US$10 for an exam in one ordinary or "0" level subject; many students will take exams in eight subjects at a cost of US$80 dollars, while "A"  level students must pay US$20 a subject resulting in an often prohibitive cost of US$160.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said 80% of "O" and "A" level students could fail to take their exams this year and thus be blocked from higher studies.

Deputy Education Minister Lazarus Dokora said in an interview with the state-run Herald newspaper that the government is aware of the problem but is trying to balance the affordability and the quality of exams. Fees go to examiners who grade exams.

For a closer look at the latest crisis in Zimbabwe's schools reporter Patience Rusere turned to Israel Mabhoo, head of the Chiedza-Nkanyiso community based schools program in Harare, a chief examiner, and headmaster Tererai Hove of the Mkoba One High School in the Midlands capital of Gweru, a member of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council.

Hove said fees must be charged to cover the exam paper printing costs and examiners, who in the past have boycotted the grading process because they have not been paid.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...