Justice for Children Seeks Court Intervention On Withholding of Results By Schools for Non-Payment of School Fees

On the 27th of March 2017 Justice for Children filed an urgent chamber application on behalf of a parent at the High Court in Harare challenging the withholding of results by Murewa High School. In the application, Justice for Children also appears as 1st Applicant, on behalf of all children across the country whose results are withheld by their various schools. The application was necessitated by the fact that a number of parents and children have approached Justice for Children seeking assistance to obtain their results. The 2nd Applicant is the matter is one such parent. Despite demand through a letter, the Headmaster of Murewa High School refused to release the results. This prompted the parent and Justice for Children to go to court.

JCT, represented by Mr Musa Kika, argues that the practice is in violation of sections 75(1) and (4) and 81(1)(f) of the Constitution on the right to education; section 4(1) of the Education Act [Chapter 25:04]; sections 19(1) and 81(2) of the Constitution on the best interests of the child, and section 7(1) of the Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06] on the right of children to be protected from ill-treatment. JCT also seeks confirmation of the obiter comments made by the High Court sitting in Bulawayo in S v Nyabeza and Another (Case No. HCA 53-4/09) [2011] ZWBHC 1 in which Cheda J (Ndou J concurring) found withholding results for non-payment of school fees to be in violation of section 7(1) of the Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06] in that it amounts to ill-treatment of children. The promulgation of the 2013 Constitution brought in a raft of rights and obligations since the decision in Nyabeza was handed down in 2011, and JCT seeks pronouncements on these rights by the Court in the matter at hand.

Justice for Children argues that debt-recovery by schools cannot be predicated on stalling the academic progression of minors who, though beneficiaries, are not party to the contracts entered into between parents and schools. Schools have a plethora of legal avenues to recover their debts and should pursue those.

The Respondents oppose the application and raise several points in limine. The Ministry, through its legal representative, further pleads ignorance to knowledge of any schools withholding results, and denies that the practice by schools of withholding results is widespread. The matter has been postponed and is set for hearing on the 9th of April 2018 before the Honourable Foroma J in Chambers.

Justice for Children

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