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Zimbabwe Teachers Union Vows to Fight Creeping Privatization of Schools


Closely identified with Zimbabwe's 1970s independence struggle, Cold Comfort School's normal operations were suspended Tuesday as parents battled bouncers brought in by the supposed new owners

While the ZANU-PF side of Zimbabwe's national unity government is pressing ahead with determination to indigenize or nationalize foreign-owned companies, a parallel trend has emerged in which public schools are being privatized and spun out of state control.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe this week said it will take on the Ministry of Education over such privatizations, an issue brought to the fore by seeming moves to take over Cold Comfort School in Harare by a consortium that says it bought the school without the knowledge of its teachers or the school's community developers.

Closely identified with Zimbabwe's 1970s independence struggle, Cold Comfort School's normal operations were suspended Tuesday as parents battled bouncers brought in by Herentals College who chased away the headmaster and teaching staff.

Sources said one parent was hospitalized after being beaten by the bouncers. A parent told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the school, with 750 pupils, should not be sold to private owners as it would put its services out of reach of ordinary people.

Last term parents of children at Cold Comfort School paid $50 per child. This week the purported new owners were demanding $150 tuition for one student.

The PTUZ said it was disheartened to note that a number of state schools have changed names and are being run by private entities, a situation union Secretary General Raymond Majongwe said should not be allowed to continue.

Sources at the school said marathon meetings were under way on Wednesday to resolve the dispute, involving education officials, school authorities and the supposed buyers.

Majongwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that school privatization must end.

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