Parents in Chipata district have complained over some secondary school demands for them to take two pockets of cement as their children report for grade eight.
In an interview with ZANIS, one of the parents, Mirriam Banda, said a named boarding school was demanding two pockets of cement and yet those that were catered for in the first selection only had to take a ream of paper and a slasher.
Mrs Banda stated that all pupils who were selected on second selection were told to take the pockets of cement while those on first were required to take a pocket of cement and a slasher.
She said besides the other requirements, the pupils were also requested to go with their own mattresses which the school authority promised to give back when government provide them for the schools.
The parents stated that they already had pressure to raise user fees for pupils, hence the need for school authorities to be mindful of the demands.
And when contacted for comment, Chipata District Education Board Secretary, Kezias Lungu, advised the parents to meet with the Parents Teachers Association to lodge their complaint.
Mr Lungu noted that the demands like that of cement and paper were not government policy but that it was an agreement that came out of Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) meetings which parents were part of.
He further stated that it was not difficult to reverse the decision if several parents put up an argument that the demand was too much.
“Children should not be used as sacrificial lambs in schools by being sent away after parents fail to pay user fees agreed upon through PTA meetings,” he added.
Mr Lungu stated that school authorities were supposed to call parents if they failed to pay what was agreed upon at PTA meetings, adding that the Ministry of Education could not come in because it was not a government policy.
He noted that the ministry did not encourage teachers to send away pupils if parents failed to pay user fees, adding that if there were any developmental programmes to be undertaken and agreed upon at a PTA meeting, teachers should use proper channels to call on parents to oblige by what they agreed at the PTA meeting.