Row between Mkoba Teachers' College and Former Students Deepens

“The college has withheld our results and certificates because we have not been able to pay school fees. I owe the school US$1200,” said one trained teacher who cannot find unemployment because of lack of a certificate.”What surprises me is that the college has refused to negotiate on how we can solve the problem.”

The student who refused to give his name said him and over 200 others in the same predicament had tried to negotiate with the college so that it could facilitate employment with government and their salaries withheld until they repay their debts but this was turned down.

“They are not getting anything from us as long as we are not working because we do not have the money. They are not gaining anything by holding on to our certificates except further impoverishing us,” said the bitter teacher to-be.

Wilbert Muringani of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) told Radio VOP that it was sad that an agreement had not been reached at a time when most schools had temporary teachers.

He also said the holding on to the results by the college without the students being able to pay money did not help MTC in any way. He however, said the teachers to be had not yet approached the union.

The students lost their case in the court last year which ruled in favour of the college and ordered them to pay the money so that they could get hold of their certificates. The students had sought the assistance of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

One of the lawyers who represented the students, Brian Dube of Gundu,Mawarire and partners who is also the Midlands Regional NANGO (National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations) chairperson, added that it was unfortunate that the college had refused this arrangement which,”would help the college in recovering money owed by students, and in return the students are able to clear their debt to the college,” Dube explained.

MTC principal Florence Dube insisted when approached by Radio VOP for a comment that it was a requirement that students pay fees.

She said when the students enrolled into college, their admission forms clearly stated that they should pay fees. She would not comment on why the college refused to facilitate the students’ employment with government so that they could re-pay their debt.

Dube said it was saddening that in Zimbabwe, children were still being punished for being poor.

“The teachers were not taking the college to court so that they can be given their results without paying fees. The students took the college to court so that they could get an arrangement where the college could send confirmation of results to the Ministry to confirm they are trained teachers so that they can be employed. The students had agreed that they would want the college to arrange with the Salary Service Bureau to have their salaries deposited into the college’s account to service the debt,” Dube said.