Protect parents from rogue SDCs

SDCs came under scrutiny this week after a school in Beitbridge was reported to have purchased a bus at an inflated price.

THERE appears to be a tendency among school development committees (SDC), usually working in cahoots with school administrators, to rip off parents by inflating prices when undertaking major projects.

Usually, the rip-off happens when the school is undertaking infrastructure projects such as building the classroom block or during the acquisition of either school vehicles or buses.

Whenever someone questions that, they are contemptuously dismissed. The annual or extraordinary general meetings are used to rubberstamp unpopular decisions with the support of rent-a-crowd.

SDCs came under scrutiny this week after a school in Beitbridge was reported to have purchased a bus at an inflated price.

NewsDay on Thursday reported that the council-run Dulibadzimo Primary School had bought the bus for US$167000 when the same bus costs US$90000.

When some residents suspected fraud, the SDC chairperson Mlaleli Ndlovu became emotional.

“Why do they ask about the price of the bus? Did they pay any cent towards the buying of that bus? They must leave us alone, who are they? We will not respond,” Ndlovu said.

What the SDC should have done was to produce receipts showing how much the bus costs to garner the confidence of residents and parents.

The school should be prepared for scrutiny since large sums of money are involved.

It can show residents and parents the bidders and their prices and how they chose one company to supply the bus.

There is no need for the SDC chair to become emotional if the committee has nothing to hide.

The role of an SDC is to be the bridge between the school and parents. Since SDC members are also parents or guardians, it is expected that they advance the cause of the school and not use that opportunity to line their pockets.

Being a member of a committee is community service and not employment. One is elected into a committee by virtue of having a special skill which will be used to advance the interests of the school.

We urge the Beitbridge council to investigate the matter at Dulibadzimo Primary School. They should not sweep this matter under the carpet especially when residents are smelling a rat.

The district school inspector must also probe the matter.

It is not only at Dulibadzimo where there are allegations of inflating prices. The situation is the same in several schools where prices are inflated or a shoddy job is done after the contracts are awarded to dubious players.

There are reports of arrest of SDC members for allegedly fleecing schools.

In 2018, a former SDC chairperson at Induna Primary School in Bulawayo was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing about US$3000.

 However, not all SDCs are rogue. Some committee members are credited with the growth of schools, getting re-elected at annual general meetings. Others have also exposed the abuse of funds by school administrators.

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