School ac­counts merg­ing il­le­gal: Prof Mav­ima

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Nor­man Muchemwa and Tan­yaradzwa Ku­taura

PRI­MARY and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Paul Mav­ima last week said it is il­le­gal for schools to merge the School De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (SDA) and School Ser­vices Funds (SSF) as the pro­vi­sions of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 87 of 1992 are still stand­ing.

SI 87 of 1992 pre­scribes that “the levy shall be han­dled by com­mit­tees se­lected by par­ents, SDC and the school head, deputy head and the se­nior teacher would also form part”.

Ten­sions are re­port­edly ris­ing be­tween School De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tees (SDCs) and head­mas­ters in schools that are in­sist­ing on merg­ing levies and tuition fees, rais­ing fears that this will likely af­fect the smooth ad­min­is­tra­tion of the af­fected in­sti­tu­tions.

Ini­tially, the ini­tia­tive to merge the funds was driven by for­mer Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter, Dr Lazarus Dokora, who ar­gued that this was likely to im­prove trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

How­ever, most schools de­cided to ig­nore the di­rec­tive as it was not backed by any statute or cir­cu­lar from Gov­ern­ment.

In an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Mail last week, Prof Mav­ima said the SDA and SSF must be sep­a­rate.

“The is­sue of merg­ing SDA and SSF ac­counts should not cause any con­fu­sion in any school be­cause the sta­tus quo has not been changed. The sta­tus quo re­mains — SDA and SSF are sep­a­rate as the Statu­tory In­stru­ment is still there.

“The only change will take place af­ter the amend­ment of the Ed­u­ca­tion Act, so this con­fu­sion must end since the Ed­u­ca­tion Act was never amended.”

He added: “There is no di­rec­tive that was given to that ef­fect and if you go to any school, there was no such di­rec­tive, the sta­tus quo re­mains. There is noth­ing that has changed at law. SDAs are still run­ning their ac­counts sep­a­rately.

“There was no for­mal di­rec­tive from the min­istry. Dr Dokora and my­self were not in a po­si­tion to give that di­rec­tive. The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary is the only one who could write that of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion to schools, but noth­ing like that was ever com­mu­ni­cated. . .

“To those who merged ac­counts, they are do­ing so il­le­gally. Schools are sup­posed to fol­low SI 87 of 1992.

“Any changes will be of­fi­cially com­mu­ni­cated,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by The Sun­day Mail, some schools, es­pe­cially those in Harare prov­ince, had merged the ac­counts. Schools in Mbare and Hat­field have been af­fected the most.

Sources said be­fore Prof Mav­ima made a pro­nounce­ment on the is­sue last week, Mbare and Hat­field Dis­trict Schools In­spec­tor (DIS), Mr Ab­solome Chi­noona re­port­edly called some Gov­ern­ment and SDA bur­sars and told them that their schools’ ac­counts could only be de-merged af­ter they re­ceive a cir­cu­lar from the min­istry.

How­ever, Prof Mav­ima said it wasn’t nec­es­sary for Gov­ern­ment to is­sue a cir­cu­lar on the mat­ter con­sid­er­ing that in the first place, the merg­ers were never ap­proved through a cir­cu­lar.

But Mr Chi­noona said in an in­ter­view last week: “It was an in­struc­tion from the min­istry. It is not our dis­trict only, it is be­ing done in most schools. How­ever, it will be best to con­tact the Pro­vin­cial Dis­trict Of­fice for com­ment. I can­not com­ment fur­ther on that mat­ter.

“There is noth­ing we can do. As you are aware, we have dif­fer­ent peo­ple with dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions who are run­ning our schools. We can­not tell a school how to run its af­fairs. We are wait­ing for an in­struc­tion from au­thor­i­ties on the way for­ward.”

Harare Pro­vin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Di­rec­tor (PED), Mr Christo­pher Ka­teera said schools that had merged the ac­counts could have done so through Sec­tion 38 of the Ed­u­ca­tion Act.

“I can­not com­ment on that is­sue, just look for the Ed­u­ca­tion Act, Sec­tion 38, and do your re­search as a jour­nal­ist. Those who acted could prob­a­bly have acted on that Sec­tion,” he said.

Sec­tion 38 states that, “Sub­ject to Sec­tion 14, all fees paid for ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided by the Gov­ern­ment or for ac­com­mo­da­tion in con­nec­tion there­with shall be paid into the Con­sol­i­dated Rev­enue Fund.”

But sources said those who in­sist on merg­ing the ac­counts are con­tin­u­ously throw­ing a curve ball to SDCs in a des­per­ate move to main­tain the con­demned ar­range­ment as the cited law is lim­ited to school fees, not levies.

It is be­lieved that at some schools such as Houghton Park Pri­mary School in Harare, among oth­ers, ten­sions — oc­ca­sioned by the clashes be­tween the SDCs and the school heads — have be­come un­ten­able.

Pro­fes­sor Mav­ima

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