Residents of Southlea Park in Harare South yesterday stormed a local community school in protest over government’s threat to withdraw teachers from the institution after landowners allegedly registered the school under private ownership.
The residents claimed they built Southlea Park Primary School using their own funds, hence it could not be registered as a private entity.
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Parents protest against the withdrawal of teachers at Southlea Park Primary School in Harare yesterday
They accused former Odar Housing Development Consortium (OHDC) administrators of registering the school as a private institution without their knowledge, which prompted government to transfer the 40 teachers.
When ZimSentinel visited the school, more than 300 parents were at the school gate, singing and chanting slogans accusing the former OHDC administration chaired by Benny Matenga of fraudulently registering the school under private ownership.
The parents ordered their children to go back home saying they would resume schooling after the ownership wrangle has been resolved.
Acting head Memory Chivhima refused to entertain questions from the media.
But a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that they had been ordered by government to transfer from the school as the institution was now under private ownership.
“We were in the midst of conducting lessons when parents stormed into the school premises and ordered their children to go back home,” the teacher said.
“They were demanding to know why the teachers had been ordered to transfer. We received a directive from the district schools inspector since the school is now a private entity. We are yet to be advised the new schools we will be assigned to.”
Highglen district schools inspector Joseph Kabasa refused to comment on the matter and referred question to ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro.
Ndoro said: “If the parents do not have supporting documents that they are the rightful owners of the school such as a registration certificate, they cannot control it.”
“Those who registered the school are the responsible authority and the ministry cannot resolve that dispute. If there is a case, aggrieved parties can take the legal route.”
Matenga confirmed to this publication that the school had been registered as a private institution because the land was owned by the consortium.
“The land was initially State land until 2017 when the consortium acquired the deeds for private ownership of the land. Even if the school is registered as a private ownership, the residents still own the school,” he said.
Parents, who spoke to this publication, called on government to stop a few individuals from assuming ownership of the school as it disadvantaged pupils.
“We are against private ownership of the school. We want it to remain a public entity under government regulation,” Esther Musukuma, a member of Southlea Park Residents Association, said.
“We are demanding answers from government on why they would allow some few selfish community members to change the school into a private property.”
Southlea Park is the only primary school in the residential area. It has an enrolment of over 2 000 pupils.