Parents petition PED over Helen McGhie head

•Helen McGhie general hands getting 8 000 bond


MASVINGO – Parents at Helen McGhie Primary School in Masvingo have raised a number of issues against the school head Sheila Deve in a petition sent to the Provincial Education Director (PED) on April 28, 2021.

The parents warned acting PED Shylatte Mhike to take the petition seriously otherwise a wide and disastrous rift is growing between the school head and the parents.

The petition was also handed over to the District School Inspector Ishmael Chigaba. The 14-point petition accuses the head of setting the date of an elective AGM that is due this month midweek in order to exclude the majority of parents who are formally employed from voting because they will be at work.

Curiously and for the first time in the history of the school, the elections are being held on a Tuesday (May 18, 2018). They said that such an AGM violates the Ministry’s principles of inclusiveness and participation. The parents described this as blatant rigging. The parents therefore called upon Mhike to stop the AGM.

The parents also complained against school fees that was increased by 75% last month only to see the school reducing learning days to two per week soon afterwards. The parents said the $7 010 that they are paying is not justified and want the fees to be revised downwards. They also accused the school head and the School Development Committee chairman Tinashe Mutema of borrowing loans from Banks without the authority of parents.

They alleged there is neither acquittal of expenditure not audit of the loans. In an earlier meeting the parents accused the SDC members of acting in conflict of interest by getting tenders from the school. They also complained that the head starts major projects in the school without any approvals from the parents and there is no explanation given.

Deve’s mobile phone was unreachable by the time of going to Print.

Mutema said he was not aware of the petition when contacted for a comment by The Mirror. He however, said the AGM has been moved to May 22, 2021 (Saturday). Mhike said she is not aware of the AGM or petition since she is out of office but promised to look into the matter. They also accused the head for putting on budgets and levying parents for activities that are not carried out in the school i.e.; swimming chemicals when swimming has not been taking place since the Covid19 crisis.

There is always a budget for uniforms for the general hands and yet the last time uniforms were bought was in 2018, reads the petition. There is also a budget for salaries for general hands and parents bemoaned the paltry 8 000 bond that they are getting from the school. Parents are paying US$20 a month for their children to use the school bus which is US$1 a day which is far higher than the 50 bond school pupils elsewhere in Masvingo pay in public transport.

The parents complained that in addition to that fare, the school is also creating some levies on the bus even when the bus is currently not being used for any trips including sports because of the lockdown. Parents are also being forced to pay sports fees when all sports are currently banned because of the Covid19 pandemic, says the petition.

“The holding of elections midweek is a rigging ploy to make sure that most formally employed parents do not attend to elect members of their choice into the SDC. The SDC has resorted to bullying and intimidatory tactics by calling for the presence of the ZRP during meetings so that those who express dissenting views are cowed into submission.

This is a new precedent under Deve who wants to bulldoze her views to parents,” reads part of the petition.

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