Chaos at private schools as govt withdraws teachers

Sylvia Utete-Masango

Sylvia Utete-Masango

Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
PRIVATE schools could be forced to increase fees after the government recalled thousands of teachers deployed at the institutions, arguing that they are commercial enterprises and as such must meet their own staff costs.

Over and above the pay received from the government, private and trust schools — which are also more expensive for pupils — provide a second salary to the teachers.

Now, a circular sent to the affected schools and district education offices has given teachers on the government payroll up to two weeks from February 3 to leave their posts and seek redeployment to government, Mission and council schools from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Private school headmasters are warning of chaos, saying the directive has come in the middle of the school term and could lead to serious disruptions to learning.

One school, Petra High in Bulawayo, says 27 teachers are affected.

The government says the move, first announced by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2016 budget statement last November, will save some $72 million — assuming the teachers opt to secure permanent employment with the 100 affected private and trust schools instead of returning to the PSC.

The circular sent by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango said the recalling of teachers was in line with the civil service audit which is underway.

“On November 17, 2015, Cabinet adopted the 2015 civil service audit report which, among other issues, recommended the withdrawal of funding of employment costs of government teachers in trust and private schools,” wrote Utete-Masango.

“You are hereby recalled for redeployment in Public Service. May you therefore acknowledge receipt of this letter and respond within 14 days. By failing to respond, you shall be deemed to have resigned from Public Service.”

Mission schools teachers have not been recalled as the circular was sent to only trust and private schools.

The Chronicle spoke to some of the affected school heads in Bulawayo who confirmed receipt of the circular dispatched last week.

Girls College head Les Ross said only four teachers were affected, but referred further questions to the chairman of the Combined Heads of Independent Schools in Zimbabwe, Robert Sibanda.

Sibanda acknowledged receipt of the circular and said they were awaiting further instructions from the provincial education directors.

“We’re awaiting the PEDs to give us a direction. Some schools haven’t communicated the message to the teachers as they feel it’s the duty of the ministry or the Public Service Commission to relay it to their teachers,” said Sibanda.

He decried the withdrawal of the teachers, saying it was likely to impact negatively on lessons and performance of pupils.

One of the worst affected schools, Petra High, reportedly has 27 teachers who have been recalled.

In an internal memo sent to the teachers, the school said the recalling of teachers was likely to disrupt lessons in the coming weeks.

“All ATS (Association of Trust Schools) in Zimbabwe have received a letter from the Public Service Commission recalling all government teachers for redeployment into the Public Service. This does have ramifications for Petra schools and we’ve met with all our teachers that are government registered and we’re in the process of finding the best way forward for all the students, teachers and Petra School,” read the circular.

The school head said the institution would advertise the teachers’ posts.

“We’ve also advised that we will, as soon as possible, publish a list of positions that will be available and government teachers who would prefer to remain at Petra will then be able to submit their applications,” read the memo.

Some of the teachers who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were contemplating resigning from the government to continue at the private institutions.

“This is a serious inconvenience, being redeployed during the term. It should have been communicated during the holidays. We’ve families that will be affected by the move,” said one teacher at Petra.

If the private schools are to retain the same staffing levels at the same rate of pay, they could be forced to ask parents to shell out more.

Presenting the 2016 budget, Chinamasa had said the government would cease to pay teachers employed by trust schools with effect from January 1 this year — although this did not happen. This was reiterated by Public Service and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira who said teachers at private and trust schools, who gobbled $72 million in 2015 in salaries and allowances, would no longer get anything from the government.

“The position is that this is an unfair charge to public funds and these institutions are run on a commercial basis and should cater for their employment costs,” she said.

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  • george

    If we pay our taxes, and those taxes pay the salaries of teachers, then if we get NO benefit from the ministry of education as a result of sending our children to private schools , then we should not have to pay taxes. Give our money back.

    • MakhosiXamu

      Private Schools are meant for the rich. Company executives/directors/ business owners and Top Govt. officials can afford astronomical fees. I know of one company Director whose child pays $1 500.00 per term – it shows they can afford anything. The Govt. should not help the rich to live in luxury whilst the majority are sinking in poverty.

      • Asazi

        Assume the class has 25 children, then at $1,500 each the class total is $37,500 per term. The well paid teacher get paid $2,000 per month which comes to $8,000 per term including holiday pay. $35,500 – $8,000 leaves the school with a balance of $29,500 per class per term.
        Less 25% of gross administration expenses $9350, balance left = $20,125 per term. This is a simplistic representation but you can see just how profitable the whole enterprise is.

        • mtshayisa

          Utshoke ukuthi isikolo sakho peso silombalisi oyedwa? Wafunda khona mhlawumbe.mhlawumbe wayefundisa isiPhuthukezi lowombalisi.Isamu qha

          • mtshayisa

            Mina elami iphutha ngilibonile.u’peso’ ubaleka ‘leso’

        • chiz

          This is just an unnecessary assumption which cannot be substantiated. Be in the system and you will understand how these private schools are run.There must be distinction between staffing in primary and secondary schools and a class to my knowledge cannot be dedicated to a SINGLE teacher’s salary only.There are other expenses such as overheads which the school takes care of. Mind you ancillary and grounds personnel get their salaries from the same pool unlike in government schools where the PTA/SDC is responsible for their remuneration. In most cases they fail to sustain these salaries hence most ancillary staff members in most government schools go for months without pay.

  • koka

    this was a stupid policy in the first place. how could govt be paying private schools teachers salaries? private schools were made aware of the changes in november and did nothing about it, they will suffer the consequences. as for teachers being recalled, where are they going to be deployed to at this time when govt is trying to reduce the number of teachers? this could be the beginning of massive retrenchment for those teachers who are not offered employment by pvt schools.

    • Ijaha LeManxeleni

      The teachers are already on government payroll so government will absorb them in some far flung schools like in the Zambezi valley and other rural areas.It may not be a bad thing actually


        I did mention this sometime last year in this very newspaper and i am glad Minister Dokora has finally seen through some of these loopholes. Long overdue as it was it is a step in the right direction and offcourse there will be angry responses from the affected lot but so be it.

      • koka

        I dont think so jaha lakithi. the way I see is govt reducing its wage bill by making teachers recalled from pvt schools redundant. Lets talk about this again in three months time.

        • Ijaha LeManxeleni

          Ya these guys can be sadistic but let us hope they see sense

  • Mwalimu

    There goes STEM!

  • bakwena

    This thing has been skewed for a long time private schools must foot their bill ,those children are from elite families , their parents can manage and public schools have been robbed of good capable teachers by these elite school which keep on dividing the society

  • Essexvale

    I think the move is a good one though badly timed. Nevertheless; why should the hard pressed tax payer be expected to continue bankrolling a second salary for these teachers? Most of the more established privately owned schools charge high fees under the guise that they are providing top of the shelf educational services. However, it is no secret that many charge exorbitant fees as a means of maintaining the Rhodesian era “whites only” concept. The only difference now is that offspring of super loaded blacks are being accepted, albeit under stringent selection processes. In my opinion, this move by the department of education, has the long term potential to ensure better educational standards in government schools due to increased resources that will be availed. This will come with the added bonus in which an greater number of educators will be available for release into the skills starved public education system.

    • Doctor Do little

      I don’t know my friend. I have mixed feelings about this one. I think what brings about these mixed feelings is the fact that Government spending cuts should start at other places like Defence, foreign trips, the Civil service and other areas. That they calculate that they will save this amount we leads me to believe that more could be saved in other areas.

      • Mixed Race

        Our system as been transformed indirectly not to accommodate the middle class people.We have the too rich and the too poor.The removal of these teachers is intended to force out all the pupils from semi middle class families to ensure that the very rich do not mix with the rich.What is $72 million saving when there are so many funds unaccounted for in the past eg diamonds money?? We are not stupid but we are deliberately oppressed and forced to accept irrelevant projects.Read my comments on drought appeal for funding.

        • MaGumede

          You make a good point here. This whole set-up is suspicious. In earlier years the Government has intervened where it came to school fees for Private schools. Why now all of a sudden they want to cause chaos for those who might be toiling night and day to raise fees so as to try and get a better chance for their children. Those that have the money can get together and hire the best teachers around and keep it exclusively rich. There is always a motive with these guys.

        • Anonymous

          Uyantshuma wena Tsitsi Magaso. This is all about money; government’s shrinking revenues.You talk like someone who has been listening to the U.S. Democratic debate. That is not applicable in Zimbabwe.

      • Essexvale

        Thank you brother for your candid remarks. I’d intended to respond earlier but was challenged by Chronicle’s website frequently going on the blink. Indeed, your points, on where cuts in government spending should begin, are most valid and should be taken note of. However, my contribution simply mentions one factor on the subject matter.

      • Essexvale

        My response to this is currently 2 below. This guy came in between while I was in the process of posting.

      • MaGumede

        I don’t blame you. Who in his right senses (other than Jotham who seems to have disappeared into the Zanu wars) can not have mixed feelings about these people?

  • blarazonke

    Desperate times call for desperate decisions. My guess though is that most of these private schools belong to top politicians and their cronies who have been pocketing the fees whilst the tax payer paid the teachers. Otherwise how has this untenable situation existed for so long without anyone making noise in gvm?

  • nelson ndlovu

    sengizapongukujikela indaba ngoba be ngingekho okwesikhathi; kanti uMusapenda uthini njengoba nanku amaShona amanengi afeyilile I O’LEVEL KulamaNdebele aseMidlands leMatabeleland. mhlawumbe uthi kade belitshaziswe yikugebha imbeva zesitshebo bekela ukubhala amahomeworks. food for thought.

    • Guest

      Do your research before posting anything big brother. Visit the following link and re-collect :

      • nelson ndlovu

        its true I have checked; the 2 Mashonaland posted the poorest results; midlandspostedthe second highest after Masvingo and mat. south is third

        • Guest

          You are wrong my brother

          1. Masvingo (MaShona) : 31.9%
          2. Midlands (MaShona + MaNdebele) : 29.85%
          3. Manicaland (MaShona) : 29.19%
          4. Harare (MaShona) : 28.78%

          These are the best 4 provinces in the country.

          Remember there are 7 Districts in the Midlands : Chirumhanzu, Gokwe Gweru, Kwekwe, Mberengwa, Shurugwi and Zvishavane

          • nelson ndlovu

            so you tell yourself that manicaland is mashona- do your research

          • Guest

            No need for a research, you are the who needs to research on that. So you tell yourself that the language spoken in Manicaland is not Shona? In case you don’t know, the language spoken there is another ‘version’ of SHONA.

          • nelson ndlovu

            its good to learn that SHONA is a concocted language and that it is conglomerate of other tribes even the Nguni/ Ndau of Sotshangane.

          • nelson ndlovu

            for our information Masvingo is Mashona + Mandebele-do another research

          • Guest

            You seam to be extremely confused. There are thousands of Shonas in Bulawayo, thousands of Ndebeles in Harare. The fact is that Ndebeles dominate in Bulawayo and Shonas dominate in Harare. MASVINGO IS DOMINATED BY SHONAS!! Otherwise there is NO province in Zimbabwe which has only one tribe, but in every Province has a DOMINANT tribe.

          • nelson ndlovu

            I come from Masvingo myself and I am Ndebele

    • bafo

      ungasiyangisi bafo,,,, osukukhuluma akulani lendaba ekuphephandaba

      • nelson ndlovu

        indaba Iyafakwa kuphela nxa ilokhu ingakapheli. wasithethisa lumuntu. kabathethise labo.

  • Lovemore Bhebhe

    In as much as I might not have much reservations about the decision it is the knee jerk application that I am worried about. Such policy changes need to be communicated well before implemantation eg a whole term before such that proper planning is put in place by all parties concerned affected teachers who might have to be transfered or salaries slashed etc, school authorities who might need to adjust fees, parents who will pay the fees and so on.

    Our government should be encouraged to give time for a proper changeover in case of a policy change. Another example,I was reading in yesterday’s paper where some students in tertiary institutions just woke up to be told you have no O level maths hence you cannot sit for examinations. Such policies have to be communicated a year or so in advance so that students adjust because at the end of the day it is the same institutions that enroled the students without Maths.

  • chiz

    Editor please note that that it is the Conference of Heads in Independent Schools of Zimbabwe (CHISZ) not Combined Heads KKKKK. Journos should research first before they commit pen to paper.Its embarrassing to say the least.

  • anon

    Most of you are really selfish, have u taken e tym to consider wats’s going to happen to the families that have been affected if they can’t get anything after all this drama, the children of all these teachers who have benefited by learning at these private schools……how many are going to be pulled out of school
    For those who don’t really like private schools, its not our fault u were never blessed with the privilege of learning or being part of one, you learn much more about life and what it has to offer than in other places. I got the chance to learn both at a private and government school and gov schools do leave alot to be desi