BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
SCHOOL development committees in Bikita have petitioned Parliament over the $300 000 Better Schools Programme in Zimbabwe (BSPZ) building, which they claim has been grabbed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
The petition seen by the Southern Eye says that the building — a resource centre for children in the district — has been converted into ministry offices.
“The Ministry of Education through the Better Schools Programme, asked for funding from parents. The purpose for the funding was for the construction of a resource centre. It was to house a library, a computer lab, and public study halls, where Internet would be availed,” the petition read.
“The marriage between the Ministry of Education and the community was based on those terms, with the primary objective of providing children access to appropriate and improved education and training, as enshrined in section 19(2) (of the Constitution). Surprisingly, after completion, the Ministry of Education hijacked the project, and fully occupied the resource centre to house its officials.”
One of the disgruntled SDC chairpersons who requested anonymity said the building no longer serves its purpose.
“All schools agreed to contribute to the project, because we were made to believe that it is a resource centre for children in the district, but now it has been personalised and children are no longer allowed access, thereby defeating the whole purpose.
“The centre was built by the school development associations and school development committees in the district, with every child at each and every one of the 89 primary schools in the district and 40 secondary schools being levied 50 cents,” he said.
The petition further read: “For a government department to enter into a social contract with the community and later repudiate it is a gross violation of trust, goodwill and simple justice between the government and its people. Ministry of Education (Bikita) is in breach of this social contract and public trust. It acted against public policy, transparency and steward leadership.”
The Ministry of Education is also accused of criminal abuse of office as they continue to receive funds which they were not using for the intended purpose.
“The Education ministry continues to receive around $66 000 per term, because statistics indicate that there are 132 000 school-going children from ECD to A’ level. So 132 000 children x 0,50c =$66 000 every term. The money is extorted from an already poor rural community. Surprisingly, this money is now for travel and subsistence allowances for government officials., which we, however, understand is the mandate of central government. This is akin to slavery neatly packaged as a Better Schools Programme.”
Bikita district schools inspector, James Mahofa acknowledged receiving the petition, but referred all questions to the provincial education director, Zedius Chitiga.
“Yes, I can confirm that I received the document, but for further questions you can call the provincial education director,” he said.
Chitiga and Primary and Secondary Education minister, Paul Mavima, could not be reached for comment. They had also not responded to questions sent by email at the time of going to print.