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Phikwe private schools still awaiting P11 million

ONALENNA KELEBEILE
SELEBI-PHIKWE: It is six months now since English medium schools have been waiting to receive the P11 million incentive that government promised in November last year for former BCL employees students school fees.

The P11 million school fees was one of the key actions under the Economic Revitalisation Strategy that government approved in the last quarter of last yea, as an immediate intervention to continue paying school fees for children of former BCL employees for 2017. The office of the coordinator of the revitalisation programme, the district commissioner and the Ministry of Basic Education were tasked with working out details to implement the decision.

Mount Pleasant School is carrying close to 100 students that are supposed to be paid for by government while there are 86 at Kopano School. The schools say they can only sustain themselves only up to the end of this term. They have submitted all that was required by government.

While school head for Morula School could not be reached as he was said to be in a series of meetings, Kopano English Medium school head Nasim Miller confirmed that they have not received the funds that government promised but was confident that the money will arrive. “Our communication with the Ministry of Education is showing that the ministry is still ironing out some issues and that the money is there earmarked for us,” he said.

He said that they had to suspend certain developments and feared that if the money does not come the school will have to consider downsizing again after a similar exercise at the end of last year.

“We are taking a strain already but we are managing. We have lost 100 students as compared to our previous intake and if

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the money does not come we will shrink again. That would mean loss of jobs. If the money does not come soon there will be trouble because currently we are carrying 86 students for free,” he said. The school has also frozen any salary increments.

Mount Pleasant School on the other hand is currently surviving on surplus that is getting depleted. The school has already suspended some projects but will wait up to next year to consider downsizing. Four of the schools’ classrooms are vacant and they are thinking of introducing evening classes.

The school head Edna Swaniker said there had been no exact time when government should pay but said the school can only sustain itself until end of this term. “We have suspended projects such as building a screen wall and renovating the swimming pool among others until the money arrives. I am afraid that at the end of this term we will be running on a very lean budget,” she said.   

Efforts to reach permanent secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education Grace Muzila were unsuccessful as her phone rang unanswered since Monday.

The fact that government failed to deliver on its commitment has not gone done well with Business Botswana.

It has made a recommendation in its draft report on the town’s economy presented by Professor Happy Siphambe recently that it must swiftly ensure that the commitment that government made on payment of school fees for the whole year of 2017 be adhered to and that payments must be done expeditiously.



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