Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A BULAWAYO lawyer whose child is a pupil at Whitestone Primary School has taken the school to court for allegedly refusing to set up a School Development Committee (SDC).
Mr Nqobani Sithole, through his lawyers, Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, on Wednesday filed a court application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Whitestone School Trust, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora and nine members of the school’s board of trustees as respondents.
Mr Sithole seeks an order directing school authorities to dissolve a parents’ committee and have it replaced by the SDC.
The school is administered by a board of trustees which has powers over the parents’ committee.
He wants the court to order the board of trustees to call a parents’ assembly for the purpose of electing an SDC within 30 days in compliance with the Education Act.
Mr Sithole, in his founding affidavit, said the refusal by the school to set up an SDC was a violation of the section 7 of the Education Act.
He said the school board dissolved the parents’ committee at Whitestone.
“The constitution of the school confers power on the board of trustees to dissolve the parents’ committee. As a corollary, the parents’ committee’s survival is at the mercy of the board of trustees,” said Mr Sithole.
He argued that the school had too much influence on the parents’ committee by virtue of seconding two trustees to the committee.
“The parents’ committee is a creature of the school’s board of trustees and not a creature of the law, or at the very least, a creature of the parent and as such it is a legal nullity,” said the lawyer.
“The governance of schools in Zimbabwe, both public and private, is in terms of the law. Such law provides for the formation of an SDC to be formed by a parents’ assembly. This is meant to allow for the meaningful participation of parents in the administration of schools.”
Mr Sithole said the school is persistently refusing to set up an SDC in accordance with the dictates of the law.
“It appears that the respondents are at home with dealing with their own created creature as opposed to a legally required SDC and thus allow them to exercise control over such body. The law prescribes a parents’ organisation that Whitestone Primary School must have in place, and prescribes the roles, responsibilities and duties of such parent organisations.
“The respondents have thus refused or neglected to comply with the law,” he said.