22 000 learners stranded as govt shuts down unlicensed schools

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Tafadzwa Muguti

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
OVER 22 000 learners enrolled at unlicensed private schools in the capital will not be able to attend classes when schools reopen for the first term on Monday after government ordered that they be shut down.

Government recently launched a blitz across the country against schools, and colleges operating illegally.

A total of 320 out of 448 schools and colleges identified as operating illegally have since been shut down by authorities in the capital.

In a statement yesterday, Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs and Devolution secretary Tafadzwa Muguti said 273 owners of the illegal institutions had been
arrested.

“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 (Zimra) and local authorities launched a blitz across the province to expose schools and colleges operating without government licences, Zimra registration and local authority permits,” Muguti said.

“It has since been established that 22 569 students were enrolled at these illegal institutions and will be affected when schools reopen on February 7, 2022.”

Muguti said government had given the schools up to March 31 to regularise their operations.

“However, those arrested will still appear before the courts. 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, Zimra and all local authorities.”

But former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart said the mushrooming of the illegal school was a vote of no confidence in the public education system.

He said closing the schools was too harsh.

“The rise of illegal schools is a sign of desperation of parents who want their children to learn,” Coltart said.

“Children in government schools have gone for over two years without learning as schools have been closed for the better part of the two years. Government has failed to ensure that learners access online learning as schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the rise of the private unregularised schools.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera was unhappy with government’s move.

“Private learning institutions are charging the learners in United States dollars and they can pay their teachers well, which has made the private education system more viable than governments’,” he said.

“We have seen an increasing number of parents withdrawing their pupils from government schools and enrolling them in private and also teachers resigning from government getting employed in the private sector.”

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the blitz on illegal schools was being carried out across the country.

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