Tendai Gukutikwa and Luthando Mapepa
CHAOS reigned supreme at Hot Springs Primary and Chipangayi Secondary schools early this week as irate parents bayed for the blood of the former school’s head and teachers, while at the latter institution a teacher stands accused of initiating learners into Satanism.
In both incidents, the parents were demanding that the teachers be transferred from the respective schools.
At Hot Springs Primary, the parents accused the head and two other teachers of insubordination and not having their children’s right to education at heart.
The parents disrupted the schools’ opening day activities and dismissed learners from classrooms.
The parents force-marched the school head, Mr Joshua Simango from the school premises, saying he would only be allowed to return with officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
At Chipangayi Secondary, the parents locked the school gates, demanding the transfer of Mrs Amalator Bonyongwe from the school.
Mrs Bonyongwe was not readily available for a comment as her mobile phone was not reachable.
When The Manica Post visited Hot Springs Primary School on Tuesday afternoon, the protesting parents were camped by the school gate and waiting for officials from the responsible ministry.
Less than 50 learners were at school and teachers were sitting in the corridors.
The parents vowed to continue picketing at the school until the head as well as Grade Five and Six teachers who were only identified as Mr Moyo and Mr Chaduka were transferred from the school.
“We will come here instead of our children until this matter is resolved. These men should be transferred. We will not let our children come to this school until officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education address us.
“Our children are not benefitting anything by attending school here. There is no difference between them staying at home and coming to school. Except for a few teachers, the rest are sailing in the same boat as the head. They do not care about our children,” said Ms Cloudine Madondo.
Police kept a hawkish eye on the proceedings, much to the chagrin of the parents.
The parents also turned their anger on the law enforcers, accusing them of siding with Mr Simango and the teachers.
Another parent, Ms Gloria Machaya, said the school’s pass-rate is continuously tumbling down since Mr Simango’s arrival at the school in 2006.
She lamented that some Grade Seven learners at the school struggle to write their own names.
“Constructing one meaningful sentence is a struggle for our Grade Seven children. The pass-rate continues declining and the best learner from last year’s Grade Seven national examinations scored 28 units. That was better than the previous year. We have tried to engage the school head, but he always snubs us.
“Instead, they care about raising school fees every term and barring our children from attending school,” charged the woman.
Another angry parent, Mrs Maria Charowedza said as a result, parents end up transferring their children to other schools like Nyanyadzi, Chaseyama and Chakohwa Primary Schools which are all between 15 to 20km away from their homes.
“We have tried engaging the school head on this issue and he showed us the national Constitution. He told us that every child has a right to transfer schools if they wish. The school authorities address us like little children.
“We do not want to see them here ever again. Simango and his cabal of teachers must be transferred. We need fresh blood here. How is it that every child from this area is so bad in school? It surely does not make any sense,” she said.
A School Development Committee member, Mr Joshua Mazviro, said there is need for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to sit down with the parents and address their grievances as it is clear that no learning will take place at the school as the adamant parents were refusing to budge.
“I have since called the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials, but they said they are attending other business elsewhere in the district. However, they have instructed us to write an official complaint and deliver it to their offices. They said they will take it up from there.
“I am yet to write the letter. No lessons will be conducted here until they transfer the head. He has been demanding a cellphone handset from the school, yet he does not care about the welfare of our children.
“The teachers attend lessons when they want. Most of them operate pirate taxis and others are now diamond panners. We want all this to be addressed; otherwise, we will camp here forever,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Mr Simango referred the reporter to Manicaland Provincial Education Director, Mr Edward Shumba citing jurisdiction.
Mr Shumba confirmed the incident, saying the parents are demanding the transfer of the school head and two other teachers.
Mr Shumba said the school’s pass-rate declined from 14 percent in 2021 to 11 percent in 2022.
“I have received a report stating that the parents are demanding the transfer of the head as he is allegedly asking for fees from learners who are on Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). It is also alleged that they want the Grade Five and Six teachers to be transferred as well because of the low pass-rate at the school,” he said.
Mr Shumba said investigations also revealed that a member of the community eyeing the SDC chairman’s post was behind the disturbances.
“We are still investigating the matter, but so far we have discovered that there is a hand behind this. There is a former SDC chairperson who is instigating all this.
“He wants to try his luck in the forthcoming SDC elections set for next month, but that is not how it should be done. If there is a problem, it should be reported through proper channels. One should not create a problem so that they provide a solution to it. That is not how it is done,” said Mr Shumba.
At Chipangayi Secondary, a fact-finding team from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was deployed to probe the disturbances.
An official from the Chipinge District Education Office who declined to be named said the teacher in question will be transferred from the school.
“The teacher will be transferred from the school to ensure that normalcy prevails,” he said.
One of the disgruntled parents, Mr Godfrey Salani, said: “Our children must attend school in a safe and conducive environment. We appeal to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to address this issue for the benefit of the parents, learners and the ministry itself,” he said.
A representative of village head Mukokota, Mr Solomon Mazviro said satanism is an abomination in the area and it should be nipped in the bud.
“They say satanism cannot be proved, but in traditional courts witches and wizards are named and shamed. Peace should prevail at the school through the transferring of the teacher in question,” he said.