The government has threatened to de-register five schools run by the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland after the church’s decision to levy all Lower Six students a mission fund of US$900.
According to Manica Post, the mission fund which is payable directly to the church has triggered an outcry from local communities, parents and stakeholders who described it as exorbitant, elitist and exclusionary.
The schools are St Faith’s High, St David’s Bonda Girls’ High, St Mary’s Magdalene, St Augustine’s High and St Mathias’ Tsonzo.
On Monday the Manicaland Provincial Education Director (PED), Mr Edward Shumba instructed school heads at the schools to either stick to approved fees which should be paid on a pro-rata basis or stop enrolment of Form Five students.
Meanwhile, the principals at the schools have defied the Government directive and continued demanding the US$900 and tuition fees ranging from $12 000 to $20 000, depending on the school.
Shumba asserted that if the church remains defiant, the schools will be de-registered or become trust schools. He said:
They think they can make any rules they want in their schools but that is illegal. This will get them in a heap of trouble. They must do away with the US$900 or stop enrolment.
Their actions are in violation of Section 21 of the Education Act which bars any responsible authority from charging school fees and levies other than those approved by the ministry.
If they were as genuine as they claim, they should own up and admit their wrongdoing.
The church is getting its 20 per cent share from the school fees and it has no legal basis to insist on a mission fund of US$900.
If they remain defiant, we will de-register them or as they argue, they can become trust schools and compete with other such schools. We will then withdraw our civil servants from there.
It is either they are Government aided mission schools or strictly private, not both.
Anglican Diocese registrar and lawyer, Ashel Mutungura, argued that the diocese is allowed to charge the mission fund.
He said the church is using the money to improve infrastructure at its schools. Said Mutungura:
In the past, this money was being used to buy food for boarder students. The church has to maintain its properties. We are using the mission fund to develop our properties.
We have put up a new block at St Faith’s High School and dormitories at St David’s Bonda Girls’ High as well as St Anne’s Goto. If anything, we have done wonders using those funds.