Concerned parents and guardians have penned Ministry of Education to intervene in what they call poor governance at Bishop Mackenzie International Schools (BMIS), which include allegations of racial discrimination.
Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa in an interview acknowledged receiving the letter, saying they are looking into the complaints.
In a letter dated August 6 2020, the parents allege that Malawian staff members are ill-treated at the school which allegedly gives preferential treatment to expatriates.
The parents stated that they believe an independent investigation at BMIS would reveal instutionalised malpractices, discrimination against Malawians and fraudulent activities that have allegedly been going on at the school.
In the three-paged letter, the parents asked the ministry to look into: “Labour practices that are unfavourable to indigenous Malawians, mainly operational support and administrative staff, and excessive packages for expatriates.
“Recruitment practices that create jobs for non-Malawians and shut out indigenous Malawians. Intimidation of parents and guardians, especially Malawians, by members of the school leadership who utter words such as ‘BMIS can survive without Malawian parent taxpayers’.”
Three parents we spoke to corroborated the information in the letter and said they wrote the ministry to help end what they described as long-standing impunity.
“We are also asking the Ministry of Education to make a determination on the legal status of BMIS. From our interpretation of the law, the school is supposed to be a public trust and not the private entity it claims to be. We feel government must have an interest in this,” said one parent.
But BMIS director Brian Allen welcomed the ministry’s involvement, saying it will allow them “to re-establish the school’s good name in light of the allegations.”
In a written response, Allen said management was not aware of the complaints forwarded to the ministry until someone forwarded a copy to him on social media.
Responding to concerns on preferential treatment, the director said the school values all its staff members and that it passed all accreditation visits last year, which would not be possible if the school had discriminatory tendencies.
“The school does not discriminate and it is extremely disappointing to read this. We currently employ a number of Malawian staff who, through mentoring and support, are doing a superb job,” he said.
Allen also distanced the board of trustees from allegations of fraud and mismanagement of resources, saying the school has set standards on procurement and that their accreditation is a manifestation of good governance.
He said: “There is a code of conduct that we must adhere to if we are to receive these prestigious accreditations. We thus categorically deny the allegations of mismanagement by the Board of Trustees. We invite the complainants to provide evidence for their allegations.”
The school is currently undergoing a forensic audit following reports that about K77 million went missing from their coffers. The school management has since dismissed some staff members in relation to the missing funds.