MUTARE: The Anglican Diocese of Manicaland has defended the privatisation of its mission schools across the province saying it will enable the church to fund for the less privileged children’s school fees in surrounding communities.

However, the move to privatise Anglican Church’s top mission schools in the province is facing resistance from other stakeholders.

Schools set for privatisation are; St Faith, St David’s Bonda, St Augustine High, St Anne’s Goto, St Mathias Tsonzo, and St Mary’s Magdalena.

However, communities surrounding the above schools argue the move will negatively impact poor parents and guardians as they will be unable to enroll their children due to expensive fees.

A well-placed source within the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland told Thursday local communities were no longer benefiting from mission schools since fees gazetted by the government were beyond their reach.

“The Bishop (Eric Ruwona) is of view that if we privatise, we will engage with traditional leaders so as to select children from communities who will enroll at mission schools free of charge. Their fees will be footed by the church, which is not the case at the moment,” the senior Anglican Church cleric said.

“We will also be able to recruit top-notch teachers since the government will no longer have influence over teachers we want to select.

“About 85% of children who are enrolled at these schools are no longer from Manicaland. Through privatisation, we want to ensure children from this province will benefit. This is is an advantage to the community because through privatisation Bishop Ruwona will not own schools as they remain the church’s property,” he added.

The Anglican cleric added the wave of protests by communities against the privatisation of the schools is being led by Bishop Ruwona’s detractors.

“We encourage communities to stop personalising the issue of privatising our mission schools because it is a programme being spearheaded by the church. Bishop Ruwona is just the head and the people are rushing to make conclusions because they hate him.”

The senior Anglican cleric praised the developments implemented under Bishop Ruwona saying he is making good use of the mission school fund.

“During the era of bishops including Masuku, Bakare, Hatendi, Jakazi, and Makoni we never witnessed any remarkable development like what Ruwona has done. Bishop Ruwona has got a vision that children from Manicaland must benefit from their own schools hence the privatisation will ensure that.

“This time, we are failing to fund school fees for underprivileged kids within our church because the fees gazetted by the government at our mission schools are not sufficient enough,” the cleric added.