The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
TWO “rogue” teachers at Tudi 1 Primary School in Matobo District, Matabeleland South Province have become a headache for villagers, allegedly disrupting everyday lessons and violently confronting other educators and villagers as they defy the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education instruction to leave the school and transfer to new work stations.
The two teachers, Sifiso Ncube and Arnold Mapiye, were reportedly part of a larger group of “radical” educators that had reportedly “captured” the school. The group had been fingered for allegedly embezzling funds that the villagers had raised for the school’s development.
However, while colleagues they had been accused together with agreed to follow a ministry directive to go and work in other stations after the conclusion of disciplinary processes, the two have remained behind as the “last men standing”, refusing to leave even though their salaries have been ceased.
The two refused to vacate school premises and make space for new teachers, and last year allegedly nearly assaulted a headmaster who had been deployed to the school. Villagers that spoke to Sunday News said with the rogue teachers running the show, things had come to a standstill at the school for the last three years or so, with the quality of education that pupils were getting compromised.
The development comes at a time when education standards in Matabeleland South have plummeted, with 10 schools in the region recording a zero-pass rate. Mr Rusta Nyathi, the former chairperson of Tudi 1 Primary’s School Development Committee, narrated how the often-violent pair had been holding the school to ransom over the past few years. Problems had started when the teachers and their now transferred colleagues allegedly misappropriated funds raised by villagers.
“This is a problem that I found when I was appointed SDC chair last year. It’s a long running problem and I remember I was called from home after there was a big fight that these men started at the school. I was called because I am a member of the neighbourhood watch committee and I was also a part of the workers’ committee. At the time, it seemed that the noise had died down but afterwards, villagers asked me to become the chairperson of the school committee because they felt that the situation had got out of hand.
We were called in one day and we found so much violence that I was also overwhelmed. That’s when I called the police but even after that we did not get the result that we wanted,” he said.
Mr Nyathi said the pair had tried to get him arrested, going to the extent of falsifying receipts so they could nail him.
“We had a problem of missing books. You’d come to the school and find that offices had been opened and books were missing. So, we decided to change the locks on the doors. I then learnt that they were collecting receipts from villagers for things that they had paid for and replacing them with ones they forged. At the time, they were trying to claim that I had stolen money from parents.
I went to the district education offices and they told me that I should not bother with these people because there is a process to be followed to reprimand teachers and it can take some time. I was told that the other teachers had been given positions elsewhere and it was now just these two that are refusing to leave,” Mr Nyathi said.
A headmaster that was appointed last year, a Mr Moyo, was allegedly chased away by the pair.
“At some point, education officials came to try and remove their property but they refused so I don’t know where we go from there. A headmaster, Mr Moyo was appointed last year but they harassed and wanted to beat him from the moment he walked through the gate. They had held a meeting prior to that with some villagers where it was agreed that there would be no headmaster that would take charge of the school as long as they were around.
He soon ran away and accepted a posting in Matobo. At the time I was about to leave my position as the chairperson of the school committee they were problems with another new head again because they were trying to influence what is happening in the school,” he said.
A villager, Mr Peter Dube, said villagers’ hands were tied as they could not forcibly remove the pair from the school.
“What I can say is that the issue you heard is true. There are two teachers that we here doing nothing and it’s been the case since last year or maybe even the year before that. We thought this is a problem that is going away but that doesn’t seem to be the case. As far as we know, when someone does something wrong at work, they are supposed to be relieved of their duties and sent home.
“When they’ve served their punishment, they can then be recalled. The problem we have is that these ones are just staying at school. This school belongs to us as the villagers and there’s a complement of teachers that we can accommodate. No one that is not working is supposed to stay here. As villagers, we don’t know how to handle the situation because this is an issue that the education ministry is supposed to resolve,” he said.
Another villager, Mr Onias Dube, said villagers were shocked at the fact that educated people could behave in that manner.
“I don’t stay here and I only came home last month from South Africa where I work but I have heard of this issue. There are two men that are not teaching but at the same time it looks like they can’t be fired. You can find them walking around the school at any time. I cannot really say I understand what’s going on. All I can say is that maybe as educated people, they understand their rights more than we do,” he said.
Matobo District Schools Inspector Mr Headman Mpofu said he was unaware of the issue.