By Ernest Mwape-Parents wishing to enroll their children in grade one at Chozi Basic School in Mbala district of the Northern Province may have to part away with just a little per child or else no education for them.
Meanwhile, police in Mpika are investigating a case in which grade nine examination papers have been stolen from Mpumba and Mununga Basic Schools about 100 kilometres south of Mpika boma.
The case of Chozi basic school demanding school fees came to light following complaints from scores of Chozi parents that the school administration was defying government provision of free education by levying them 30,000 kwacha to have their children enrolled in grade one.
According to Chozi School administration and Parents Teacher’s Association (PTA), the funds to be realized from grade one enrollment exercise would go towards the construction of staff houses and salaries for volunteer teachers.
However, the move has raised mixed reactions among parents in the area who fear that their children might not receive any formal education because of the high cost of enrolling the children.
Some parents threatened that they would boycott the enrolment exercise if the school administration and PTA insisted on levying them, while others vowed to take their children elsewhere where they would not pay anything.
When contacted for a comment, Northern Province Provincial Education Officer (PEO) Selisho Chanda confirmed receiving reports on the introduction of grade one enrolment fee.
Chanda said he had since instructed the school administration not to implement it because they had no mandate to collect money from parents wishing to have their children enrolled in grade one.
“It is true the school administration at Chozi wants to be levying parents who are enrolling their children in grade one, but I have instructed the head teacher to stop PTA from implementing it because no one has a mandate to do that,” Chanda said.
The PEO observed that since collection of money form pupil in grade one to seven was against Government policy of free education, school administration in his area should desist from passing resolutions that seem to contravene the education policy in the country.
Chanda disclosed that the matter was being handled by the Provincial office and that the school head teacher would be reprimanded for flouting the policy of free education which he said was clearly spelt out that no pupils from grades one to seven should be asked to pay anything.
He said while he appreciated that the school had shortage of staff and teacher’s houses the situation was not as acute as it was being portrayed.
The PEO who recently visited Chozi Basic School revealed that some more new teachers had been sent there to improve staffing.
In Mpika, police are investigating a case in which grade nine examination papers have been stolen from Mpumba and Mununga Basic Schools about 100 kilometres south of Mpika boma.
Both Mpika police and Northern Province Provincial Education Officer Selisho Chanda have confirmed the theft of examination papers today.
Police sources said the theft of grade nine examination papers happened early last week.
The sources revealed that almost all the examination question papers were opened before taking them away.
Police sources said a grade nine pupil Teddy Chisoko of Mununga basic school who was found with nearly all the examination papers was locked up after he declined to name the person who had sold him the papers.
“Because Teddy Chisoko refused to tell us the name of a person who allegedly sold him examination papers that we found with him, we had to lock him up,” police sources said.
The sources added that also some grade nine pupils were found with pieces of papers where they had scribed some answers while others had written answers in their palms and thighs.
Police said in the two thefts, there were no break-ins, but thieves used keys to gain entry to head teachers’ offices where grade nine examination papers were kept for safe custody.
“In the two thefts, locks and windows to head teachers’ offices were undamaged, but thieves used keys to open the doors,” revealed the police sources.
Police had recorded warn and caution statements from the two head teachers being the custodians of keys to their offices where papers were stolen, police sources said.
And when contacted for a comment, Chanda disclosed that he was informed of the theft of grade nine examination papers at Mununga and Mpumba basic schools in Mpika last week.
He however said he was unable to give full details about the matter because he had not gotten the full report from the officer on the ground.
“Am unable to give you full details about the matter because I have not gotten the full report from my officers on the ground,” Chanda pointed out.
Chanda however added that all what he knew was that Mpika police were investigating the theft of grade nine papers and hoped that officer would carry a thorough investigation and bring culprits to book.
Mununga and Mpumba basic schools are close to each other and are only six kilometres apart.