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They’re not ungrateful, they don’t have money

The Patriotic Front and its government has noted with concern that most parents in some parts of the country have this term opted not to pay school fees for their children, despite the reduction of the user fees by the Ministry of General Education.

The Minister of General Education, David Mabumba, says through consultations with a number of school managers on the Copperbelt and North Western provinces have revealed that some parents do not want to pay a single ngwee for their children to be enrolled in school.

Mabumba says parents must be grateful to government and that they should appreciate this gesture which is unprecedented.

He says the government reduced school fees as a measure to allow vulnerable children whose parents cannot afford to pay.

Mabumba says the danger of not paying school fees is that it may affect operations at schools.

He said this at a meeting held at Mufulira High School after a number of school head teachers complained to him that parents have opted not to pay school fees.

Mabumba appealed to the local leadership to help sensitise parents on the importance of paying school fees.

There’s something very important that Mabumba, the Patriotic Front and its government don’t seem to understand: the great majority of Zambians are too poor to pay for education and other social services.

With rural poverty levels of 76.6 per cent, how can one sensibly expect our people to afford even the lowest school fees?

With poverty levels of 82.2 per cent in Western Province; 81.1 per cent in Luapula Province; 79.7 per cent in Northern Province, school fees of any level become impossible to pay.

And to this add the continuing loss of jobs everywhere!

It’s not that people don’t want to pay school fees or are ungrateful to the Patriotic Front and its government for reducing school fees, they simply don’t have the money.

There’s clearly no sensible alternative to totally free education in Zambia.

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