GOVERNMENT has clarified that, as scheduled, schools are opening on Tuesday with students at boarding schools travelling tomorrow. There has been confusion with some parents thinking that schools are opening on Wednesday since Monday will be a holiday. As schools open on Tuesday, there is confusion over the issue of depositing levies into accounts controlled by the School Development Associations (SDA) that are being accused by Government of siphoning millions of dollars for personal use at the expense of schools improvements.
The Sunday Mail understands that the declaration of tomorrow as a holiday, by virtue of Workers’ Day falling on a Sunday has seen some parents, especially those whose children are boarders speculating that schools will open on Wednesday.
But the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education secretary Dr Slyvia Utete Masango said the holiday would not affect the scheduled date for opening schools, which remain Tuesday.
“There are reports that there is a circular from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education stating that schools are now opening on Wednesday because of Monday being a holiday, that is not true, the school opening dates remain unchanged,” she said.
“As you know we closed schools in March instead of April because of the Easter holiday and we cannot continue losing time, so schools are going to open on Tuesday 3 May and we expect those in boarding school to travel on Monday.”
The clarification also comes as some schools are refusing to accept school development levies from parents saying they are waiting for Government directive on which account to use.
Government, last month announced that it was considering the removal of SDAs from controlling cash due to allegations of abuse of the financial coffers by some association members.
This was after an audit commissioned by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education unearthed more than US$1,2 billion in development levies that was circulating in Government and mission schools with a chunk of it is being abused by school heads, bursars and SDAs.
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora is on record saying the fraud had informed Government’s decision to consider removing the control of cash from SDAs.
Commenting on the issue, Dr Dokora said: “There is no confusion over the SDA issue at all. The SDA, school heads and other stakeholders gave their views on the way forward regarding this issue. The ministry is collating that data and sooner rather than later the way forward will be communicated.
It must be emphasised that we need to keep within the confines of the law, in this case the Education Act and subsidiary enactments such as the statutory instruments. It’s at the level of the statutory instruments that the harmonisation of the Act will be carried out in light of the stakeholder comments.
“I am very optimistic and extremely gratified by the returns so far received from nine provinces.”
In an interview Zimbabwe Schools Development Associations and Committees (ZSDA/C) president Mr Claudio Mutasa said there was confusion regarding the payment of levies with some parents refusing to pay citing lack of clarity over the issue.
“There is a lot of confusion regarding the issue, some schools are refusing to accept the funds from parents while some parents are refusing to pay levies because they do not know which account the funds will end up in,” he said.
“For schools that are accepting, some are saying they are going to surrender the funds to Government while others are insisting on depositing it into SDA accounts.
“The problem is we were never consulted and we do not know the correct position at the moment.”
In 2015, Government commissioned an audit into schools’ operations following indications of fraud and abuse of funds due to lack regulatory and monitoring systems.
The reports show that some school authorities have been duplicating receipt books as cover to lay their hands on development funds.