Parents, school clash over CALA charges

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PLUMTREE – PARENTS of external candidates at Mqokolweni High School in Plumtree are
complaining over what they say are excessive charges of Continuous Assessment Learning Area
(CALA).
CALA is any learning activity or assessment that requires learners to perform, demonstrate their
knowledge, understanding and proficiency.
Under the regime, Zimsec candidates’ physical and behavioural skills are assessed continuously
(course work) and contribute 30 percent to their final marks. Summative or knowledge skills
assessed during examinations contribute 70 percent to the candidate’s final grade.
External candidates wishing to sit for their examinations this month (November) will have to
approach their examination centres for assessment.
Sithembisile Betshu, a parent of an external candidate, said the amounts they were being charged
were exorbitant as centres were taking advantage of external candidates.
"I do not understand why we should pay a lot of money just for one subject. I paid registration fee of
US$24, US$ 10 for CALA, Centre fee US$ 20, tuition fee US$ 20 then now they want another R300 or
$20 for tuition fees. The amount I paid is $54 just for one subject, what about those with more
subjects isn't this amount too much?
"Why should the school charge us tuition fees two times? This is not right, teachers must not use
CALA as a business. Most of us are struggling to make ends meet,” Betshu added.
Another parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “l received a call from the teacher that
my child had not paid tuition fees. Upon hearing this I told him I had paid already and it seems this
did not go down well with the teacher, who said ‘if you do not want to pay it's fine we are not going
to submit her examination papers to Zimsec.’ Is this right to be threatened?”

The parent added that it was not a crime to be an external candidate and that the school had been
built by the community to cater for its needs rather than milk parents.
Reached for comment, Mqokolweni High School headmaster, Nkululeko Vundla, said extra fees were
meant to go towards allowances of teachers who work extra time assessing the projects that
external candidates produce.
"These external candidates consult teachers for CALA projects once or twice a week so that's where
the other allowance goes to.
"With CALA marking and e-learning or to consult, teachers cannot do that for free. No one can
perform that duty for free. As a school, we buy chalks, bond paper, our machines usually break down
and we buy ink and many more consumables. Parents want that service for free, which is not right
and that's the money we use to purchase science chemicals and apparatus," the headmaster said.

He urged parents to consult with him first whenever there was a problem and not to consult among
themselves as it would cause tension.
He also said that he was aware of another $20 or R300 that is being charged by teachers.
In an interview, the Provincial Education Director, Beatrice Manjere, said her office was not aware of
the issue.
“I'm not aware of that. I will investigate with the District Schools Inspector,” she said.

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