Unregistered and unlicensed schools and colleges in Harare province, which cater for 22 569 students, can continue operating until the end of March, giving them the time they need to register with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and obtain local authority permits.
The extension was granted to minimise the effects on those studying at the schools, since they would have to find other places if the schools were just closed as the law essentially demands.
But it has been made clear that the school owners still have criminal charges and that the grace period is for the children’s benefit.
Checks are continuing in Harare Province after 448 private schools were caught operating without being registered recently and now all unregistered schools must fix their status and sort out their registration and licensing or be closed at the end of next month.
All schools have to be registered with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, be registered with Zimra and be licensed by the local authority.
The schools have to be in premises that are safe and not a health risk, with the minimum standards laid out in regulations, and have to follow the national core syllabus although can add other subjects.
The requirements are not onerous and many private schools meet them with ease, but they have to be checked and registered.
Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province Mr Tafadzwa Muguti yesterday said all illegal schools across the province were now being checked.
“The office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and local authorities launched a blitz across the province to expose schools and colleges operating without Government licenses, Zimra registration and local authority permits,” Mr Muguti said.
“While the initial list comprised of 400 illegal schools and colleges, the blitz managed to identify 448 schools and colleges that did not comply with any Government or local authority requirement.
“To date, a total of 320 schools have been shut down due to non-compliance, whilst 273 owners of these illegal institutions have since been arrested and appearing before the courts.”
Mr Muguti said it has since been established that 22 569 pupils were enrolled at these illegal institutions and could have been affected by any drastic action when schools reopen on Monday.
“We, therefore, encourage all those operating schools and colleges illegally across the province to take advantage of this grace period and regularise with the Ministry, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and all local authorities,” he said.