AT least 38 private schools in Harare have been shut down for defying the Government’s directive to regularise their operations.
This comes after 400 private schools were given a 48-hour ultimatum on Monday to regularise their operations.
Following the expiry of the deadline, Government has moved in to enforce the law with the 38 schools being shut down after failing to comply.
Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province Mr Tafadzwa Muguti confirmed the development yesterday saying the Government would not relent on the issue.
“We are not going back on what we said. All unlicensed schools, some operating in unfavourable backyards, should seek registration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“So far, we have arrested 32 owners and 38 schools who defied our order have been shut down,” he said.
Turning to schools which had unilaterally hiked fees, Mr Muguti said while the level of compliance was commendable, the exercise remained in full force to deal with those breaking the law.
“We are happy that some schools are now engaging parents and Government on fees. This is commendable but I would like to warn those who are arrogant that the full wrath of the law will catch up with them,” he added.
Government this week exposed 400 private schools which were operating illegally and ordered them to regularise their operations or risk being shut down.
Other schools were, however, raising fees or levies without going through the required processes.
“The office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution is inundated with complaints from parents and guardians over unsanctioned increase in school fees, charging of fees at parallel market rates, refusal of local currency payments, barring of school development committees, mismanagement of funds and failure to supply audited financials.”
Mr Muguti also expressed concern over schools that were failing to cooperate with officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education which has managerial or oversight authority, depending on the school’s status, and has the final say on whether school fees or levies can be raised and if so by how much following the necessary consultations with parents.
“Reports from the provincial education directorate also reveal that the majority of private and public schools in the province did not seek Government authority to increase fees in 2022 but instead used authorisation letters dating as far back as 2013 to charge these latest school fees despite all increases being reviewed on an annual basis and in need of approval of at least 20 percent of parents,” he said.
“There is also a growing illusion that private schools are not subjected to the Education Act nor oversight by the Government.” – Herald