Nyirenda (L) at the High Court with parents and lawyers
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has argued that Malawi Government is the rightful owner of St Andrew’s International Primary School which was founded in 1938 and charges nearly K4 million as fees per student per term.
Chakaka made the arguments at the High Court in Blantyre recently in the case in which 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 and wants the school to be under the Minister of Education as was the case during the era of late president Kamuzu Banda.
He said: “The property belongs to the government. 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.
However, lawyer for the board of trustees Noel Chalamanda argued that the school is not government-owned as it does not get support from the government.
Chalamanda said: “When we say the school, we don’t mean the land or buildings, but the thoughts behind the school.
“Ministry of Education has not done its part. Isn’t it reasonable that the Secretary for Education should have issued a trust deed?”
St Andrew’s 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.
However, there was a requirement that a trust deed legalizing the trusteeship would be executed. According to the parents, for St Andrew’s, while a trust deed was drawn, it was never executed. The trustees originally appointed by the Designated Schools Board of Governors are no longer running the school.
In their application, the parents want the court to declare that the current eight trustees, who are among defendants in the case, are illegal trustees and cannot continue running the affairs of the school. They also want the trustees to account for money and property of the school during their tenure of office.
The school, however, wants the injunction vacated. High Court Judge Jack N’riva is yet to make a ruling on the matter.
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