Parents petition PED over Ratidzo Zimcare

Simbarashe Mtembo 

MIRROR REPORTER 

MASVINGO – Parents of children learning at Ratidzo Zimcare School in Masvingo have petitioned acting Provincial Education Director (PED), Shylatte Mhike to intervene in the ‘mismanagement’ of the school and stop its widening rift with the Catholic Run Alfred Walter Hostels.

They also accused Zimcare teachers of abusing their mentally challenged children by using them as tools for begging. This they said is an abuse of the children’s rights. They demanded an audit into the use of funds received by Ratidzo from Government and donors.

The parents also said that Ratidzo teachers are no longer issuing children progressive reports as their focus has now turned to fundraising.

The petition signed by over 30 parents and dated July 12, 2022 was submitted to the District Schools Inspector (DSI) Ishmael Chigaba, Mhike and Alfred Walter Hostels administrator Sr Maria Murwira. 

Mhike said she was yet to receive the three-week old petition when The Mirror called her for a comment.

The parents also want Zimcare to reverse an unauthorised conversion of a woodwork and home economics block into a kitchen and dining room respectively. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Schools Permanent Secretary Tumisang Thabelo wrote a letter in September 2021 stopping the turning of Ratidzo into a boarding school until proper and approved standard buildings for the purpose are constructed.

Chigaba said he was attending Heroes commemorations when contacted for a comment. 

 Sr Murwira said said she received the petition and is waiting on the ministry’s response. 

The parents said the bad relations between the school and the Roman Catholic Hostel administrators is affecting their children psychologically. They said the welfare of the children has gone down with running shortages of blankets and food.

They wondered why Ratidzo had not been forwarding a 63% grant Government Grant to Alfred Walter Hostels where children are given accommodation, food and health care.

“The relationship between the school and Alfred Walter Hostels is bad yet dealing with the same kids. Learners are vulnerable to abuse as staff are begging using them but not for the benefit of the children. The 200 blankets donated by Pick n Pay to the children is a case in point. 

“Children go for some time without food after Government has released money for the purpose. We need an external audit as a matter of urgency. We understand that the school is no longer offering the learning programmes as expected but rather using these disadvantaged children as begging bowls which should be deeply regrettable. 

“Why has it become urgent for Ratidzo to start a boarding without proper facilities in place? How on earth can 18 teachers share nine classrooms where there is no hot-sitting considering the nature of the learners?

“We used to get progress reports from the school of each child but now the school management is concentrating on the infrastructure other that the ministry’s policy which is learning and teaching,” reads part of the petition. 

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