ZIMBABWE National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Luxon Zembe yesterday lashed out at Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere saying he was not only killing the country
‘s education system, but chasing away skilled labour.
Reacting to Chigwedere’s decision to stop schools from asking for donations, Zembe said the minister had a long history of “saying things that do not help solve economic issues by destroying the once vibrant education system”.
“As ZNCC we are not happy about what the minister is trying to do or achieve,” Zembe said yesterday. “We believe that if parents have agreed to pay for facilities offered by the school it is entirely their own decision. Government should not get involved because these are private schools with parents who are prepared to foot the bills.”
He said government should concentrate on improving the ailing economy rather than interfering with institutions that are trying to cope in the midst of a crippling crisis.
In a partial reversal on Wednesday Chigwedere said government did not object to schools asking for donations, but was against the practice of forcing parents to make donations for their children to continue with lessons.
Last month Chigwedere warned government wou-ld take action against private schools that discriminated against pupils whose parents declined to make donations to top up fees.
“These are private schools, full stop,” Zembe said. “Chigwedere is killing our education system. We will lose manpower because managers do not want their children to be messed around by a confused minister. Skilled personnel will leave the country, worsening the current brain drain at a time when we are trying to entice them back into the country.”
He said private schools offered quality education that government schools could not, citing the shortage of textbooks, chairs and desks at most government schools.
“As an association we want to put it on record that we are extremely unhappy about Chigwedere’s policies,” Zembe said. “The move by the minister to continue interfering with the education system will have long-term implications and result in major problems for the country.”
Meanwhile, Chigwedere has banned schools from offering any extra lessons during school holidays without the ministry’s approval.
Documents to hand show that extra lessons have been prohibited and anyone found defying the ministry’s directive will be arrested.
A circular to parents by a Harare primary school headmaster said the ministry had prohibited extra lessons unless the school applies for authority.
“Authority can be sought in writing by parents through the school head. Any teacher or child found doing extra lessons will be reported to the police.”