ECONOMIC COLLAPSE HITS PRIVATE SCHOOLS | Private schools in the country are facing hard times with some of them coming up with drastic measures to save their institutions from collapse due to financial challenges.
Petra Schools Trust in Bulawayo has been forced to integrate and remodel the primary and secondary schools into one institution in an effort to survive the economic hardships.
Former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Mr David Coltart, who is the chairman of Petra Schools Trust, had a tough time convincing parents during a meeting on Monday evening to accept changes at the two schools, one primary and the other one a high school.
“Most private schools are in a dire financial crisis which is a reflection of the economic hardships faced by the country. These schools, including Petra, are trying to find balance to maintain their status.
“The economic crisis facing the nation has generated an extreme reduction in enrolment at private schools because parents are failing to pay the required school fees,” said Mr Coltart.
According to Mr Coltart, the two schools will be integrated into one institution to build a single team for all aspects of school life, with effect from January 1 next year.
One name which refers to both schools will be given to the institution delivering education from early childhood development (ECD) to Upper Six.
Mr Coltart urged parents to understand the strategic decisions he announced during the meeting, saying this was a model they were adopting from other schools throughout the world.
“Petra will move to a centralised model of administration, grounds, development and finance. There will be one set of accounts and one audit for Petra.
Under the single name there will be two schools, the junior and senior schools respectively, each with one head.
“The integration of the campus will require a staff member with the time and capacity to train teachers and oversee the implementation of the integration process, which person could be named either principal or executive head of Petra,” said Mr Coltart.
“There will be one fee structure for both schools and all children moving into the senior phase from the junior will have automatic admission, only undertaking testing for streaming as and when appropriate. We hope that the entire parental body will embrace these changes.”
Some parents, however, expressed concern over the changes, saying the decision could affect the flow of finances.
They also accused the school authorities of imposing decisions that affect their children without consulting them. Petra’s new structure comes at a time when other elite schools are also employing different strategies to survive.
Falcon College in Esigodini, which has been a boys’ school since its inception, started enrolling girls from Form One to Six early this year.