HomeLettersDeath knell for private education

Death knell for private education

AT any one time, somewhere in the region of 20 000 school children are being educated at absolutely no cost to the government through non-governmental or Trust schools.

serif”>The Minister of Education (Aeneas Chigwedere) has created a problem of massive proportions by deciding the amount of fees they can charge with no regard whatsoever to the actual running costs.

Two articles that appeared in the media should set alarm bells ringing.

The first was in the Herald where the minister indicated that government would not allow privately-owned schools to close. This means that government will have to meet the bill for the running of those schools that face collapse. At what cost?

Most schools facing collapse will need to sell their assets – assets that belong to the school, paid for by them, giving them full entitlement to dispose of them.

This means that the ministry will have to equip the establishments from scratch.

In real terms, classes of 40 will have to squeeze into classrooms designed for 30 and share half a dozen text books. Of course they can expect to be equally poorly equipped in all other aspects. They will be brought down to the level of government schools.

What about the buildings, also owned privately? Will government pay the trusts rent or will there be a wholesale grab, similar to the farm invasions?

The second article “Chigwedere orders private schools to return donations” (Zimbabwe Independent, August 6) stating that no donations could be received and all donations would have to be credited against third term fees, is totally the opposite of what headmasters were told at the beginning of the second term that donations would be allowed provided they were given freely.

This will cause the immediate collapse of all private schools. Was the minister’s intention to force the collapse of private education in the second term?

When it did not work, was he creating a mechanism to force their closure in the third term?

The minister has come up with no plausible reason for restricting school fees. He is either being dictatorial, loving every minute of the kowtowing that is being done by school heads in an effort to restore sanity in the system, or he is trying to exercise the same control over private institutions as other ministers have done successfully to the detriment of the economy.

Perhaps there is a more sinister reason – the fact that a worse than useless education system will send educated parents who want the same for their children scurrying to find other countries to supply that need, making the situation even worse, or maybe he just has no idea of the high cost of running a school, a non-governmental one or otherwise.

Perhaps he should ask his sons for advice as they have chosen non-governmental schools to educate the minister’s grand children over those that are under his firm control.

It is a sad indictment that a minister, entrusted to provide the best his ministry is able to give, has placed schools in financial peril in the short space of three months, some of which have operated successfully for over 100 years without government interference.

It is sadder still that the parents of these schools have allowed him to get away with it!

Joseph Smith,


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