Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
PRIMARY and Secondary Education permanent secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango yesterday refused to award the coveted Secretary’s Bell Award to a private college in Bulawayo, saying the award cannot be associated with mediocrity.

She said Higher Learning Centre did not deserve the honour.

The Secretary’s Bell is awarded to schools which would have made tangible efforts to provide classrooms and school libraries as well as e-learning opportunities for learners from early childhood development level up to Advanced Level.

The award includes a plaque and a cash prize of $5,000.

Dr Utete-Masango who had since Monday been awarding the 2014 and 2015 recipients of the awards made a U-turn at the college’s gate and went on to tour other schools in the city instead.

Speaking to Chronicle, Dr Utete-Masango said she could not understand how the college was nominated for the award

“You’ll have to ask the province that question. They can answer it because the secretary’s merit award has a standard which must be maintained.

“If it’s something below standard then you can’t associate the permanent secretary with it. I couldn’t be associated with where they had taken me to. As far as the secretary’s merit award is concerned that school doesn’t qualify,” said Dr Utete-Masango.

Higher Learning Centre is located in the central business district near Eveline High School and offers secondary education up to Advanced level.

After the event was cancelled pupils and teachers feasted on the food which had been prepared.

School authorities said the event had been cancelled and refused to shed more light.

Kumalo Primary School, Pumula High, Founders High, St Patrick’s received the award in Bulawayo during the week.

Dr Utete-Masango said she was impressed by the performance of most schools in the city.

“You can see that schools are making a lot of effort not only in terms of academic attainment but in terms of general outlook. Yes, you can say they really need to catch up here and there. Generally I’m impressed by the motivation you find in the schools,” she said.

She toured Baines Infant Junior School, Lobengula Primary in Mzilikazi, Mpumelelo Primary and Cowdray Park Secondary School.

Speciss College was the first non-formal institution to win the Secretary’s Bell award in 2013.

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