Saturday, July 31, 2004

Zimbabwe: govt policy forcing private school to shut down

Eaglesvale, one of the oldest private schools in Zimbabwe, is likely to close its doors because it can no longer pay its bills. The government determines the amount the school can charge students and the school says the amount is too low to allow it to continue operating.
Eaglesvale was particularly hard hit by the fees fixed by the education ministry at the beginning of this term. It was allowed to charge only $1,2 million for a day pupil rather than the $2,5 million many secondary private schools were allowed to charge and the more than $1,5 million allowed for most primary schools. (source)
A bit on recent history ...
The school, founded in 1911, is one of many that were earlier this year stopped from starting the second term by the Education Ministry, which accused them of raising their fees to exclude black pupils.

The schools only opened after agreeing to fees set by the ministry. The ministry, however, allowed parents who wished to to make donations to schools.

Mr. Theron says the school received a letter from the ministry earlier this month accusing the school authorities of demanding donations and ordering that it refund the money. To date, Mr.Theron says only 15 parents have demanded their money back. He says it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the standards at the school without running high debts it may be unable to pay. (source)
The connection between raids on white farms and these private schools ...
These institutions [private schools], whose history stretches back more than 100 years, are falling victim to an official vendetta. In May, Aeneas Chigwedere, the education minister, told parents at St George's College in Harare that they would suffer the fate of white farmers.

"We will do to them what we did to white farmers," he said. "We are dealing with racist schools. They are all former white schools, all racist."

In fact, private schools admitted black pupils even during the Rhodesian era. Black children form the great majority in the classrooms of virtually all of them.

Their alumni have gone on to fill prominent positions in Zimbabwe and Britain. Robert Jackson, the Conservative MP for Wantage, attended Falcon College near Bulawayo. Rupert Pennant-Rea, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, went to Peterhouse School near Marondera. (source)