Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
SCHOOLS Development Committees (SDCs) and Schools Development Associations (SDAs) are still in control of schools’ development levies and Government has not made any move to usurp the former’s role of administering the funds, a senior official has revealed.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango told Sunday News that Government has never directed schools to deposit levies in a Social Security Fund (SSF), as reported in the media last year.
SDCs and SDAs run their own bank accounts, while school authorities run a separate one on behalf of Government.
There were reports that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education had ordered schools to deposit levies in one bank account run by Government, ostensibly to curb abuse of funds. Parents reportedly petitioned the Government and threatening to take legal action as they resisted the directive. Dr Utete-Masango said that no such directive was ever issued and SDCs/SDAs remain in control of school levies.
“There was never such a directive. Circulars are issued by the permanent secretary and I don’t remember issuing such a circular. I don’t think I could be that forgetful,” she said.
Dr Utete-Masango said such an arrangement could only be possible with changes in the legal framework that education sector has been amended. She said the Government was working on repealing the Education Act to align it to the new Constitution.
“What is happening now is that the Education Act and Statutory Instruments are being repealed so that they conform to the new Constitution. So a lot of ground work has been done and our legal section has been out working with the Ministry of Justice because they are the ones that are responsible,” she said.
Added Dr Utete-Masango, “It is from the outcome of what they will then submit to us that we can then talk of the issues that we having now. Otherwise as of now, nothing has changed until the legal frameworks are addressed.”
Following the reported directive, parents in Harare and Chitungwiza petitioned Government, arguing that the move was tantamount to “stealing” from parents. They argued that the directive was in contravention of Section 27 subsections (1a and b) and section 75 subsections (1a and b) of the national Constitution which gives the Government the mandate to fund education in this country.
According to Government findings, more than $1,2 billion in development levies circulates in Government and mission schools, with a chunk being abused by school heads, bursars and officials from SDCs/SDAs. In 2015, Government commissioned an audit into schools’ operations following indications of fraud and abuse of funds. School levies are managed by SDCs/SDAs which they channel towards development of learning institutions, while Government collects school fees.