Ministry of Education has dissolved the Board of Governors for Saint Andrews International Primary School (SAIPS) and appointed an interim, led by Dr. Luis Gadama up until the Ministry constitutes a new board.
A press release from Minister of Education, Madalitso Wirima-Kambauwa dated March 24, says the decision has been done in exercise conferred by the High Court Consent Order dated 4th March, 2023 between Sunduzwayo Jere & Naomi Charles — Civil Case No. 276 of 2022.
Gadama’s deputy chairperson is Rachael Mijiga while the other Board members are Dessen Govindasamy; Dalitso Nkunika; Samantha Lissaeur; William Mmanga; Siphiwe Chingota; Oswald Mtokale; Monica Lungu and Kenwood Khumbanyiwa.
The Minister said a new Board shall be constituted upon wider consultation with stakeholders, including all schools under the Designated Schools Board — or at the expiry of 18 months, whichever comes earlier.
“The Board shall be accountable to government in its operations as provided for under the Education (Designated Schools Board of Governors) Order, 1977.”
SAIPS have been embroiled in controversy in the past year which culminated into Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda declaring in September last year that Malawi Government is the rightful owner of the school which was founded in 1938.
The school was charging nearly K4 million as fees per student per term as of last year September last year, after 83 parents of learners at the school obtained an injunction stopping the school’s board of trustees from executing their duties.
The Attorney General joined the case wanting the school to be under the Minister of Education as was the case during the era of late president Kamuzu Banda.
Chakaka Nyirenda argued then that the SAIPS property “belongs to the government and that there was no instrument that shows that the school was transferred to the trustees”.
“The trust is void and ownership has to revert to government. School fees are over K3 million per term, does it exist for the benefit of the public?”
Reports indicate that the land where the school lies is legally owned by government and St Andrew’s doesn’t pay city rates, land rent or taxes despite making millions per term.
St Andrews and three other international schools in Malawi were run by the Ministry of Education through the Designated Schools Board of Governors but later the ministry accepted to cede control to boards of trustees for each school, following a request from parents.
Just last month, the parents demanded immediate resignation of the school’s headteacher Naomi Charles for lack of accountability and gross incompetence in the handling of administration matters.
The media reported that in a letter written to the school, the concerned parents also demanded resignation of SAIPS Board of Trustees for it’s failure to execute a Trust Deed document – a legal document, which created the school to officialise their work.
Among other issues, the parents were worried that education standards have gone down at the institution and also that the headmistress is busy spending money on lawsuits and bribing, depleting the coffers leading to the school going bankrupt.
The parents alleged that the school was swimming in financial tatters as the teachers only received half their pay for the month of January, 2023.
The parents, who described the headteacher as the worst in the history of the school since it’s inception also alleged that the school has so far lost 150 students since the headmistress joined the school.
Negative publicity over the school surfaced in July last year after management instructed G4S security guards to assault expatriate teacher, Nola Formentin.
The teacher’s contract was not renewed after he was suspended on suspicion that she leaked a malicious internal memo to parents of the school’s students.
But Formentin sought the intervention of the Industrial Relations Court to clear her name before returning to her home country, Australia with a clear conscience and indeed the court her of any wrongdoing.
The Industrial Relations Court cleared her of any misconduct after the school’s private investigators, Fletcher and Evance, were subpoenaed to release the results of its investigation — but ccording to the court, the report did not name Formentin as the author of the anonymous email that was sent to the parents.
Satisfied that she was going back home clean of any suspicions of involvement of the leaked memo, Formentin thus went to the school to bid farewell to her former students and other members of staff, whom she had developed a strong bond of relationship before returning back to Australia.
As she chatted with her former colleagues, management was not happy of her presence and ordered the guards to forcibly evict her.
After the incident went viral on social media, the school issued a statement which accused Formentin’s visit as “a deliberate and calculated move to cause as much trouble and commotion as possible and disrupt the smooth running of the school before she leaves”.
In an interview with ZBSNews, the school’s Board chairperson, Lance Mbewe was quoted as saying Formentin was suspended for some issues and, therefore, was not supposed to be found within the premises until the matter was resolved.
It later transpired that the leaked email that the school’s management described as malicious was from a whistleblower that revealed that one senior member of staff was having an extra-marital affair with her junior
But the Board had “found no reason to take action as the affair was not impeding her performance and therefore we had no legal remit to punish her”.
Our source then indicated that as the rumour circulated of the secret love affair between the senior female teacher and the junior teaching staff, Formentin had witnessed on two separate occasions, the two alleged lovers entering an unoccupied staff quarters separately and also leaving separately after about an hour.
Engaging in sexual activity on the school premises during school hours is a serious breach of safeguarding policy, our source had said and “seeing the suspicious activities of the teachers, Formentin had a professional duty to notify management of what she had witnessed.
And when the email was leaked and the contents spoke of the affair, Formentin was targeted, as she had been the original whistleblower on the incident.