The ruling ZANU PF party has warned the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland against its plans to privatise its best performing mission schools in the province.
St Faith’s, St David’s Bonda, St Augustine’s High and St Anne’s Goto are among high schools which the diocese intends to privatise next year.
The church’s leadership on Monday started consultative meetings with the local community leadership, community members, teachers and non-teaching staff over the move.
They started off with St Faith’s High in Rusape, with officials from the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry as the secretariat.
Manica Post reported at St Faith’s Mission, the atmosphere during the meeting was tense, full of heated debate and finger-pointing.
The community reportedly objected to voting over the issue, arguing that it did not know how the votes would be used to determine the way forward.
Anglican Diocese of Manicaland bishop, Eric Ruwona, told the meeting that they wanted to privatise the school because the Government was not adequately remunerating teachers and wanted to improve their welfare by paying them about US$500.
He said they also wanted to provide scholarships to the less-privileged as well as give locals a quota of available vacancies.
Meanwhile, a letter from the ZANU PF Makoni District Coordinating Committee (DCC), warning the church against the privatisation process was also read during the meeting.
The letter signed by Makoni DCC chairman, Albert Nyakuedzwa, reads in part:
ZANU PF is against your intention to convert St Faith’s High School into a private school. We also received similar objections from community members who said they contributed to the construction of the school.
If the school is to become a private school, then it means the majority of the community families will no longer afford to enrol their children there.
Diocese spokesperson and registrar, Ashel Mutungura said the privatisation process was continuing after successfully conducting another meeting at St David’s Bonda Girl’s High on Tuesday. Said Mutungura:
These are consultative meetings for people to raise their concerns. At St Faith’s High, we had a meeting with the local leadership that did not even understand why we were there.
They refused to vote, threatening to approach the highest office over the matter. These are people who do not understand how schools work and there were drunken elements, some of whom were bussed from Rusape.
They are not part and parcel of the local community. When we were about to conduct elections, they disappeared with the voters’ roll.
The local community is saying they must determine what happens to St Faith’s and parents with kids at the school should not be part of the process, which shows a lack of understanding of how schools operate.
They did not understand that this is a consultation for introducing a new model of operation and in terms of substance, there was nothing, absolutely nothing that was material for the decision-making that we want to do…
Under the privatisation plan parents will pay US$500 for Form Ones and US$900 for Form Fives to the Responsible Authority as Mission Fund, and then pay Government authorised fees to the school.
The mission schools are registered as Trust Schools, with the church as the Responsible Authority.