Private schools get reprieve on fees

Itai Mushekwe



THE High Court yesterday ordered Education minister Aeneas Chigwere to stop interfering with private schools in the setting of tuition fees.


The court granted a provisional order setting aside government’s fees structure imposed recently.


The order was granted after the Association of Trust Schools (ATS) challenged Chigwedere’s sub-economic fees for private schools in court. Justice Bhunu ordered Chigwedere to set aside his fees for ATS schools for next year’s first term.


“It is hereby ordered that the directive by the first respondent (Chigwedere) setting fees for ATS schools for term one of 2007 be and is hereby set aside,” said Justice Bhunu.


Justice Bhunu also restrained Chigwedere from meddling with the functions and responsibilities of Education secretary, Stephen Mahere, when undertaking his duties. Mahere was cited as the second respondent in the ATS application.


“First respondent is hereby restrained from unlawfully interfering with the functions and responsibilities of the second respondent by issuing directives, publicly purporting to set or prescribe fees, or otherwise interfering with or encouraging or permitting interference with the second respondent in the discharge of his duties under Section 21, save unless and until the relevant responsible authority lodges an appeal with the First Respondent in accordance with Section 22 of the Education Act.”


Chigwedere, under whose stewardship the country’s educational standards continue to decline, had threatened to arrest private school heads who defied his directives on fees.


He was ordered by the High Court not to request, instigate or effect any arrest on a charge under Section 21 (7) of the Education Act before the publication of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November and December 2006.


Justice Bhunu interdicted Chigwedere from “seizing or purporting to confiscate to the state any fee or other money that may be paid by or for the parents to any member of the fist applicant for fees or levies for the term one 2007.”


ATS chairman Jameson Timba said they were pleased with the court’s decision.


“We are pleased that the rule of law in the management of our private education system has been reinstated and the alarm and despondency among parents and staff that the minister had created removed,” said Timba.


“We sincerely hope that the minister will in future resist the temptation of willfully violating the Education Act that he presented to parliament and under oath undertook to uphold.”