Headmaster Threatened With Lawsuit Over School Uniforms
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has written to the Goromonzi High School headmaster demanding that he allows two pupils into the school despite their failure to buy uniforms sold by the school.
According to ZLHR, Goromonzi High School says it is its policy that all pupils buy uniforms from the school and those bought even from renowned retailers such as Enbee Stores are not accepted.
ZLHR is representing the father of 2 minor children whose children were barred from attending lessons for not buying uniforms from the school even though they paid school fees in full.
The human rights lawyers argue that Goromonzi High School is selling its uniforms at exorbitant prices, yet they are of similar quality to those sold by shops.
ZLHR has demanded that the school’s headmaster unconditionally allow the minor children to attend lessons and permit them to purchase uniforms from a retailer of their choice.
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In the event that the Headmaster fails to comply with the demands, ZLHR said they will immediately petition the High Court on an urgent basis seeking an order to compel the school authorities to allow the minor children to pursue their education at Goromonzi High, with the headmaster bearing the cost of the litigation. ZLHR said in a statement:
Because the right to education is sacrosanct, we have on behalf of a parent challenged an arbitrary directive compelling parents/guardians or students to buy exorbitantly priced uniforms sold exclusively by authorities at Goromonzi High School.
Our lawyer [Tinashe Chinopfukutwa] issued an ultimatum to authorities at Goromonzi High School demanding that they rescind their decision of barring 2 minor children from attending lessons after opting not to purchase exorbitantly-priced uniforms sold solely by the school.
The Headmaster at Goromonzi High School in Mash East province recently advised the father of 2 minor children that his children, who in December 2022, were accepted for enrolment to commence Form 1 studies at the school in January 2023, would not be admitted into the school if they had not purchased school uniforms, which were being sold exclusively by the school.
In response, the minor children’s father told the Headmaster that he was prepared to purchase school uniforms from Enbee Stores, the country’s leading school wear supplier, where similar school uniforms were being sold for about US$325 as compared to US$643 charged by Goromonzi High School.
The Headmaster totally indicated to the minor children’s father that if he purchases or otherwise acquires school uniforms anywhere else except buying the exorbitantly priced school uniforms being sold by the school, his children will not be admitted into the school.
To demonstrate this, school authorities denied allocating the 2 minor children a class or completing the admission forms even though their father had paid the school fees in full.
This compelled [Chinopfukutwa] of the [Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights], who on Monday wrote a letter protesting against the conduct of the Headmaster at Goromonzi High School and arguing that it was unlawful.
In his letter, which was also copied to Hon. Evelyn Ndlovu, of [the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education], Chinopfukutwa told the Headmaster that his decision to bar the school children access to learning on the basis that they did not buy expensive school uniforms solely from the school despite the fact that they had fully paid up the school fees and tuition constitutes a violation of the minor children’s right to education as provided for in terms of section 75 of the Constitution.
Moreover, Chinopfukutwa said the Headmaster’s decision also violates section 4(2)(a) of the Education Act, which prohibits the refusal of admission of any child to school.
The human rights lawyer protested that the Headmaster’s decision to insist that the minor children can only be admitted into school after they have bought exorbitantly priced school uniforms solely from the school is grossly unreasonable such that no other sensible person acting on the same facts and circumstances would arrive at the same decision.
Chinopfukutwa told the Headmaster that his insistence is not based on the quality or lack thereof of the uniforms from Enbee Stores but rather what he termed to be school policy, which demands that school uniforms must only be bought from the school, even when there are cheaper and affordable alternatives from reputable school uniform retailers.
He charged that the Headmaster’s insistence and the supposed school policy is grossly unreasonable and extortionate and demanded that he, by lunchtime on Monday 9 January 2023, unconditionally allow the minor children to attend lessons and permit them to purchase and or obtain school uniforms from Enbee Stores or any other outlet or source.
Chinopfukutwa said in the event that the Headmaster fails to comply with the demands outlined above, he will immediately petition the High Court on an urgent basis seeking an order to compel the school authorities to allow the minor children to pursue their education exploits at Goromonzi High School and the costs of such litigation would be borne by the Headmaster.