Parents submit petition calling for removal of school head

Mkhululi Ncube, [email protected]

PARENTS of children attending Mkaya Primary School in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, have submitted a petition to the Public Service Commission (PSC) calling for the removal of the school head, Ms Clemencia Sibanda, due to allegations of gross financial mismanagement, poor pass rates and derogatory behaviour toward parents.

The petition, dated May 21, 2024, states that there is confusion surrounding financial records, with some parents not receiving receipts for payments made, and the bursar responsible for this is leaving the school without issuing receipts to paying parents.

There is also concern raised by parents over the lack of accountability with money paid by churches that rent out the school for their functions.

Parents are also worried about the poor pass rates, which could negatively affect their children’s futures.
Despite qualified teachers, the Grade Seven pass rate for 2023 is a mere 11,11 percent, significantly below the national average of 45,57 percent.

The parents claim that Ms Sibanda has no respect for them and has referred to them as “dogs that bark but do not bite”.
Further allegations include the diversion of funds for personal use, including a water project.

“There is gross financial mismanagement at the school as financial records are a mess and we request an audit. Some parents paid fees and no receipts were issued. A bursar who was hired left in a huff and did not issue receipts to paying parents. She left for South Africa and has contacted some parents promising to repay them,” reads part of the petition.

“We kindly request that by 10 June 2024, she should have ceased as head of the school. Failure to do that, we will take steps that will ensure that she leaves.”

Mangwe Ward 1 councillor, Nhlanhla Regis Ncube, confirmed awareness of the petition and stated that the District Schools Inspector had been invited to the school and they were waiting for an update.

“I am aware of that matter as I also attended a meeting where the issues you are putting to me were raised. We invited the District Schools Inspector and they came to the school, but we are still waiting for their update on the way forward,” he said.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Mr Taungana Ndoro, said they take such matters seriously and encourage parents to co-operate in dealing with them.

He said removing a school head should only be done as a last resort and measures will be taken to empower existing leadership to turn the school around.

“Although I have yet to receive the petition from the parents of Mkaya Primary School regarding their concerns over the school’s leadership and academic performance, I want to advice that we take such parental concerns very seriously, as our top priority is ensuring that all pupils receive high-quality education in a well-managed school environment. I want to assure you that we are looking into this issue thoroughly and will be addressing it with the utmost care and diligence.

“While parents do have the right to advocate for improvements in their children’s schooling, the process for removing a sitting school head is a complex one that involves multiple stakeholders.

“According to ministry policy, parents can petition to review a school’s leadership, but any final decision on the head’s status would need to follow the proper channels and procedures. Our ministry’s stance is that removing a school head should only be done as a last resort when all other avenues for school improvement and support have been exhausted,” he said.

Mr Ndoro urged parents to engage constructively for a positive resolution.

He said measures to improve academic performance could include providing additional training and resources for the school head, implementing rigorous academic monitoring and support programmes and engaging parents more actively in the school’s governance and decision-making processes.

“Our goal is to empower the existing leadership to turn the school around, rather than resorting to abrupt changes. However, if these efforts do not yield the necessary improvements over a reasonable timeframe, then we would certainly consider the parents’ petition and work to determine whether a change in school leadership is warranted. Ultimately, our duty is to the pupils, and we will take whatever necessary steps to ensure they receive the quality education they deserve,” he said. — @themkhust

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