Concerns over Government Blitz to Close Private Schools

The Early Childhood Association of Zimbabwe (ECAZ) is concerned with the ongoing blitz by government to close unregistered schools in Harare Metropolitan Province after the expiry of the 48 hour regularization ultimatum issued by the Harare Metropolitan Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr. Tafadzwa Muguti last week in the absence of clear registration guidelines. We take note that the laws of our country, Zimbabwe require us as Infant Schools to register and concede to the fact that the majority of our members are not registered despite being operational. We however implore the Government to relax some of the requirements such as the prescribed land size required to register an Infant School. We believe that we are complementing the efforts of the Government in providing basic education which is a right for every child. This is in-light of the Government’s own admission that it is short of 2000 schools.

We implore the Government to put in place a clear procedure for registration of Infant Schools, starting from the Local Government level up to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The bottle necks faced by many of our members are at the Local Government level where the registration is supposed to start with the health and environmental inspections, change of use from residential to business for those operating from residential houses. The minimum standards used also differ between local authorities and it is our position that these standards need to be revised and standardized.

We further implore the Government to give our members a 3 month regularization period as any period less than 3 months is inadequate considering the time needed to have health and environmental inspections and in some cases to apply for the change of use in-order to obtain a Health Permit. The Health Permit is one of the requirements needed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to obtain the Education License.

We foresee a crisis when schools open since most children will not be able to realize their right to education in light of the closure of most schools. The registered schools are not enough to absorb the thousands of children who will be affected by the closures. This, in our view will make more children vulnerable to abuse as they become idle at home. We sincerely urge our members not to panic and to cooperate with the Authorities. We believe it is only engagement that can take us out of this crisis.

We have however taken note of agents under the guise of “consultants” who have suddenly mushroomed to organize workshops and offer consultancy services on the pretext that they can facilitate the registration of Infant Schools. We kindly urge our members to be cautious of these unscrupulous individuals who are taking advantage of the situation to extort them of their hard earned cash. Those who need to regularize can contact our ECAZ Officers, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Officials in their Districts or the Local Authority offices in their respective areas for guidance.

ECAZ will be organizing meetings in various Districts within Harare and Chitungwiza to help and guide members on the regularization process. ECAZ is an Association of ECD Centres in Zimbabwe formed to facilitate the provision of quality and integrated ECD services for children in Zimbabwe, build the capacity of ECD Centers at all levels of delivery services, and promote holistic development (physical, social, emotional, creative, cognitive, spiritual and moral development of children below the age of eight. We are vigorously working with our members to comply with registration requirements for preschools and crèches at Council, Ministry of Education and Department of Social Welfare level.

Source: Early Childhood Association of Zimbabwe

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