From George Maponga in Masvingo
Over 700 schoolchildren at Mukaro Girls’ High School in Gutu were yesterday ordered to go back home after the Roman Catholic-run boarding school was shut down by the church in protest over the continued presence of two teachers who successfully applied for a court interdict to stop their transfer from the school.
The church sought to transfer the two male teachers Messrs Martin Matenhere and Musanaa Chirikure from Mukaro after accusing them of masterminding a crippling strike at the school that saw pupils walking for over 15km to the Gutu district education offices in 2012.
The pupils were protesting over poor living conditions at the school and only returned to the institution after assurances from the Catholic church that their grievances would be addressed.
However, after normalcy returned to the school, the Catholic church allegedly tried to force the transfer of Messrs Chirikure and Matenhere, but the pair successfully applied for a High Court order to stay their transfer, arguing that they were being unjustifiably victimised for a crime they did not commit.
The church then responded by announcing the closure of the boarding school yesterday until further notice.
Roman Catholic Masvingo diocese vicar general Father Walter Nyatsanza visited the school to announce its closure.
Pupils were being ferried home yesterday using buses from other Catholic schools under the Masvingo diocese.
The church’s education secretary for Masvingo diocese, Father Rafael Zindova, in a statement intimated that Mukaro High was being closed because of the continued presence of two “stubborn’’ teachers at the school.
“Mukaro High School has encountered challenges since 2012.
“The situation has continued to be untenable, tense, and disruptive due to the two stubborn teachers at the school. The responsible authority (Roman Catholic Church) has been co-acted to close the school with immediate effect.
“Any query should be directed to Mr Zedius Chitiga, the Provincial Education Director of Masvingo,’’ said Father Zindova.
Mr Chitiga could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered while his deputy, Mr Andrew Chikwange, confirmed the closure of Mukaro High saying investigations were underway.
Parents with children at Mukaro High, who spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday, expressed outrage at the decision to close the boarding school over the stand-off with two teachers.
The parents said it was shocking that their children were ordered to return home yet they had paid full fees.
Parents said the fight by the school authorities was not supposed to infringe on learning activities of their children.
Problems at Mukaro have been brewing since July 2012, when over 700 girls staged a protest and walked to Mpandawana Growth point to meet Ministry of Education authorities over a plethora of grievances.
The pupils were unhappy with the quality of food served at the school that was also chronically beset by water problems as three boreholes that supplied the institution were being overwhelmed.