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Monday, June 5, 2023

Parents seek high court interdict against Kutama College’s privatisation

Story by Abigirl Tembo

THE proposed privatisation of Kutama College in Zvimba has not gone down well with parents, who are now seeking a High Court interdict, saying the school negotiated in bad faith and hoodwinked parents into accepting the privatisation of the mission school.

More than 500 parents have petitioned the High Court to stop the privatisation of the college, which they say is being implemented without due regard to stakeholders’ interests.

“The school has breached our trust. We agreed on US$600 fees and now they are talking of US$1200; that’s not what we agreed on. They should stick to our initial agreement,” said parents who spoke to the ZBC News crew.

“I placed my child here because I knew that I could afford it and when they spoke about the privatisation issue they consulted us and we all agreed on the fees structure, but now they have reneged on that initial agreement and looking at the current curriculum, the students had already started with CALA and are about to start their exams soon,” a parent said.

“As parents, we are no longer interested in this privatisation,” noted another.

Kutama College board member, Mr Dakarai Mapuranga defended the upward review of the fees, saying it was necessitated by the need to rebuild a dormitory which was destroyed by fire in October, while also giving run-down facilities a face-lift.

“There are three critical things that happened at Kutama that need to be addressed. First of all, we have a hostel that got burnt that houses 200 students. We have to budget to fix it. We have already started fixing it. The second issue is basic infrastructure like water. The kids are now using the bucket system for bathing and we have to fix the water infrastructure,” he said.

“The third area is power, we have to go the solar way now. All those things come with an associated cost for just basic services for our kids to be in a good learning environment. So, the US$750 proposed is fair and reasonable. The $600 was a thumbsuck figure that had been brought from the floor, but when the finance team did their numbers and we looked at the real cost of running the school. The barest minimum to provide services is $750 without any luxuries, just to get solar systems and running water. So that number was thrown about before the hostel had been burnt down.”

Documents in possession of ZBC News suggest that the school held a meeting with the parents and guardians on March 12, 2022, where they agreed on the privatisation of the Catholic-run school.

They further agreed on school fees of US$600 which would gradually increase, while Form one and Five classes would start with a new fee structure, a figure which the school increased to US$1 200, but has since been reduced to US$750.

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