PRIVATE schools have started consulting parents on increasing fees following the government’s withdrawal of some 500 teachers from the institutions countrywide.The schools charge between $700 and $4,500 in school fees every term per child.
As part of measures to cut down expenditure, the government gave private schools an ultimatum to either employ the teachers or release them for redeployment into the public service.
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.
Over 500 teachers have been recalled from private schools with trust schools being the worst affected.
School heads who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday said the Bulawayo Provincial Education Director, Dan Moyo last week issued letters to the affected teachers.
“We received letters from the PED dated February 16 to the effect that government teachers are being recalled for re-deployment in the public service and must respond within 14 days,” said a school head who declined to be named for professional reasons.
The head said teachers have to make a decision individually on whether to resign or go back to government.
“What had to happen now is that teachers who decide to stay have to reach an agreement with the school before they resign or they go back to government for re-deployment,” said the school head whose school had seven affected teachers.
“We’ve started consulting parents on the way forward as they are the ones who run the schools. If we are to take the teachers back it means we have to boost our finances to meet the costs,” said the head.
Chairman of the Combined Heads of Independent Schools in Zimbabwe, Robert Sibanda confirmed receipt of the letter from the PED.
“The letters were released by the PED to be handed to teachers. Unfortunately I can’t comment further,” said Sibanda.
He said the Association of Trust Schools (ATS) has indicated that 406 teachers have been affected while scores more from private schools had been recalled.
Some of the ATS schools are Centenary Primary, Christian Brothers College, Dominican Convent Primary and High Schools, Girls College, Carmel, Falcon, Lomagundi, Midlands Christian College and Petra High School.
Some school heads said fees might go up next term as the redeployment would not affect lessons this term.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Sylvia Utete-Masango, in a circular dated January 28 this year, said the recalling of teachers was in line with the civil service audit which is underway.
“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,” wrote Utete Masango in a circular dated February 3.
Presenting the 2016 budget last year, Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa said the government would stop paying teachers employed by trust schools with effect from January 1 this year.
This was reiterated by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare 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.