|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Parents fume over Zim school closures
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 05/05/2004 16:55:12 Last updated: 05/05/2004 13:28:43
PARENTS have blasted President Robert Mugabe and his government following the closure of over 45 schools in a dispute over the hiking of fees.
Scores of irate parents and our readers rang and e-mailed to register their dismay at the government decision, delivered on Tuesday, the same day schools opened for the new term.
Distressed parents criticised the regime's heavy-handness in closing down the schools.
"For our children to get quality education, we have to pay more because these schools cannot retain good teachers and maintain good standards without resources," said Jill Teltford, a parent whose three children were sent home after the closure of their school.
NEW ZIMBABWE.COM SAYS
|Every Zimbabwean is proud of the government's achievements in the
education sector since 1980.|
But the growing political intervention in our education system and the repeated closure of the University of Zimbabwe is absolutely unwarranted.
There are a few positives President Mugabe has achieved since independence and one of those is an excellent education system.
But it's only a lunatic who would blow up such a good reputation. President Mugabe shouldn't be doing this.
There are two things that emerge, its either his advisers have all gone barmy, or he is the lunatic!
Unconfirmed reports said some headmasters had been arrested and were in police custody over their decisions to increase fees without authority.
The parents said there was no option for the schools but to increase fees because of Zimbabwe's inflation rate of 600 per cent, the highest in the world.
But the Zimbabwe government sees otherwise.
"We are dealing with racist schools. They are all former white schools - all racist," Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere told state media.
"They throw Africans out simply by hiking fees."
A fuming Dr Nomusa Dlodlo said: "I am an indigenous Zimbabwean, who is patriotic and concerned about seeing the ducation deteriorate. I pay through my nose to see my child get a quality education, hence it is by choice that my child is in that school. We sit as the PTA to determine the fees. So, why then should my child be denied access to an education when I, the parent, is willing to pay such monies."
Police kept a vigil at all the affected schools, with reports suggesting that some panicking headmasters were about to reduce fees in order to appease the government.
Our readers yesterday expressed shock at the move. Many wondered why President Mugabe who has held education as one of his major achievements since independence would take such a huge gamble.
School fees at both government and private schools have gone up by large amounts, and principals at some government schools have already been dismissed for increasing fees.
Most private schools have increased fees by up to 75 percent since January. There are 38 private schools in Zimbabwe, and all but one or two are run as not-for-profit trusts.
The private schools have about 30,000 students, most of them the children of professionals, the middle class, and the political elite, mostly from the ruling ZANU PF Party. Among them are President Robert Mugabe's three children.
One school principal, speaking on condition that neither he nor his school was identified, says most school governing bodies regularly apply to the Department of Education to increase fees. He says they seldom if ever receive replies. This principal says that if the police continue to order that schools be kept shut, then private schools would go to the courts seeking relief.