By Sisho Magagula | 2018-01-10
AS the mad rush in search of spaces for pupils in schools intensifies, the ministry of education and training has tightened the grip on some private schools by shutting them down.
This comes after the schools were found to be operating illegally because they do not meet the basic requirement set by the ministry.
At least 21 private schools have been declared illegal and closed by the ministry and they are spread across the four regions of the country.
Following the release of both the Standard Five and Form Three results, desperate parents are queuing in administration blocks of various schools on a daily basis in search of spaces for their children.
Due to the difficulty in finding spaces in public schools, especially the best performing ones in the urban areas, desperate parents end up seeking solace in private schools. The unsuspecting parents enroll their children in the pre-schools not knowing that such entities do not qualify to be even called schools in the first place.
The ministry has issued a strong warning against sending children to these private schools.
Acting Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education and Training Dr Sibongile Mntshali said these schools failed or refused to meet basic requirements, despite several reminders by the ministry.
“You cannot just wake up today and decide to operate a school. There are set standards that must be met. There are a host of these requirements and the owners or directors of these schools know them because they have been engaged by the ministry of several occasions,” she said. Some of the basic requirements for operating a school include having a Science Laboratory, a proper administration block, adequate classrooms commensurate with the pupil population of that particular schools, enough and clean ablutions, and sports field.
While some of the schools have been completely closed, some have been granted provisional authority by the ministry to continue operating pending their full compliance with the requirements.
The Manzini region has the highest number of private schools that have been closed by the ministry as 14 of them have been shut down.
These include, but not limited to Roads Park High, Cornerstone Help Centre, Optimum High, Labone Complex and Harvard International High. Others are Lethu High, Goshen Academy, Praise high, and Prestige Palanari School.
Three private schools in the Hhohho region have been declared to be operating illegally and these are Eaglesvale primary, New Life International primary, and Emmanuel Khayalethu.
In the Lubombo region, there are only two illegal private schools and they are Malindza Education Centre (Lawini) and Tshaneni Milestone Academy Private School.
The Centre for Continuing Education School and Costeried Study Centre are the only private schools in the Shiselweni region that are operating illegally.
A total of 58 private schools across the country have been granted provisional authority to operate. This means they are not fully compliant with the requirement but have been allowed to operate until they completely put their house in order.
These schools are, but not limited to, the popular KaZakhali Schools in Manzini, Bosco Study Centre, New Life primary and Inkhanyeti Schools.
On a positive note though, 73 private schools are home and dry as they have been granted full authority by the ministry to operate.
These include the popular Annadale schools in Mbabane, the prestigious Waterford Kamhlaba, and the best performing Khanyisile primary in Manzini.
The high-flying Mbalenhle Christian Academy in Ngculwini is also in the clear, together with the respected Enjabulweni primary, Jabez schools, Apex high and KaShali Pro Learning School in Ngwane Park.
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