After providing education to pupils for almost 15 years, The Rejoice Academy, formerly known as Wisdom Academy’s operation has been halted by the Hhohho Regional Education Officer (REO).
Independent News has reliably learnt that pupils from Rejoice Academy, private school were not be able to come back to school while other pupils returned to their respective schools a fortnight ago. The school was located in Mbabane Youth Centre where it rented a couple of buildings to conduct classes.
Sources close to the matter revealed that the REO had recently notified the school’s Directors that the school could not continue operating as it failed to meet certain standards set by the Ministry of Education and Training. The REO is reported to have set a number of standards and conditions for the school to operate under. It has been established that a wall fence be erected around the school and separate it from the other structures providing other amenities.
The youth centre is located at Msunduza, Mbabane where there are a number of activities taking place in the centre from churches, youth enterprises and residential houses.
Joel Dlamini, the School’s Committee Chairperson lamented over the decision of the ministry to end the school’s operations. Dlamini said when they took over the operations of the school in 2020 they found that the ministry had set up a number of standards to be met so to continue operating. He said they took over the school from one unidentified Zambian couple who were operating the school before.
Dlamini revealed that when they showed keen interest to take over the school in 2019, the Conference of Churches which owns the Youth Centre premises told him and his team that the Zambian couple had been allegedly failing to pay rentals, hence they terminated the contract with the Zambians.
He went on to say one of the conditions was that they had to refurbish the infrastructure, fence the premises to separate the school from the residential houses as it is not proper for pupils to be in a place congested with residents.
Dlamini said they did the renovations, fenced the school side as per the government request. He said they were then told to engage the town council to do assessments to determine if the premises were conducive of being a school. He said the town council asked them to pay E5000 to do the assessment. “All was done accordingly,” said Dlamini. He said the REO told them that for them to get approved and get a licence, the town council must endorse them and that happened.
Dlamini said after having done all this, the REO then recently came with new conditions which then propelled them to halt operations. He disclosed the that REO gave them three (3) new conditions which include building a wall fence for the school premises. They were also told that the owner of the owner must also be the property owner of the entire premises and that will then provide a long term plan for the school.
Dlamini said the REO also told them that if they want to continue operating, they should make sure they were no tenants staying around the premises.
Dlamini said all this new conditions were not easy to meet anytime soon, they were actually a long term thing to do. He said they were willing to meet them but due to time, they could not as pupils were now supposed to be at school as schools opened on Monday, March 29, 2021.
He said at this stage, the school management and the conference of churches were winding up their relationship with all the stakeholders which include the parents.
Dlamini said this was really unfair for the ministry not to be patient with them to sort out all the conditions. He said this decision had affected parents who have already paid school fees and the pupils who now had to change schools at the eleventh hour. He said the teachers they had hired will now be out of work and that add on the already high unemployment rates in the country.
He said the 150 pupils that had registered with them will now be forced to relocate and look for other schools and that will add pressure to the new schools they intend to go. He said the schools are mandated to create more space for the practise of social distancing but if the 150 pupils from the now dysfunctional Rejoice Academy joins the other schools, the space will be limited and the pupils might be overcrowded.
When sought for comment, Hhohho REO Thuli Langwenya confirmed that the school had failed to meet the standards set by the ministry of education hence the closure. She said her office could not continue renewing the provisional licences that the school was operating with.
Langwenya said she was even shocked that the school was planning to reopen for this year because her office terminated the licences in 2019 due to the school’s failure to meet all the standards set by the ministry. She said infrastructure and the location was not conducive to be used as a schooling facility.