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Threat to Zimbabwe's private schools
Business Day (SA)
August 12, 2005

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/topstories.aspx?ID=BD4A79198

HARARE ó Hundreds of private schools would be forced to shut down in Zimbabwe if a bill allowing President Robert Mugabeís government to set fees and recruit teachers was passed, teachers and school associations warned yesterday.

"If this bill passes through parliament in its current form, by mid-next year half of our schools will be closed down and our children will be roaming the streets," said lawyer Edith Mushore, representing the Association of Trust Schools, a grouping of about 550 private schools.

Mushore said at a parliamentary committee hearing that the proposed reform of the education laws was "an unprecedented attack on private schools" in Zimbabwe, which had one of the highest education levels in Africa.

The Education Amendment Bill was presented in May, allowing the education minister to set school fees, impose a school uniform and determine recruitment of all teachers, including those in privately run schools.

The government contends that the private schools, which cater to well-off Zimbabweans, should be made accessible to all.

One of the two major teachersí unions agreed that the bill would prevent private schools from operating in Zimbabwe.

"We are convinced it will cripple the operations of all private schools," said Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe.

"The government should not be allowed to make rules and regulations to control the running of private schools and the conduct of teachers they donít employ," Majongwe said.

The proposed law would allow the government to close down schools that charged fees above those set by the minister.

School heads could be prosecuted if their schools overcharged. Zimbabwe last year shut down several private schools it said were charging exorbitant fees. Sapa-AFP 

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