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The Federation of Managers of Private Non-Feeing Colleges invited parents whose children attend colleges in the Curepipe region to a meeting on Saturday. They were made aware of the measures imposed by the PSEA on these establishments.

A packed house at the gymnasium of St Joseph College, in Curepipe, on Saturday, July 6. Parents of students and managers of private non-fee-paying colleges attended the meeting organized by the Federation, with the theme “Is education in Mauritius under threat?” The objective was to raise awareness among parents of the measures imposed by the Private Secondary Education Authority (PSEA) on these establishments, including in particular the very controversial new subsidy formula, which is also the subject of a request for judicial review in the Supreme Court.

And the least we can say is that the parents present were angry with the PSEA. Led by Shiv Luchoomun, the husband of the Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, this institution is accused of jeopardizing the future of education in Mauritius.

Gaëtan, whose three children attend Notre-Dame, Mauritius College and Curepipe College, deplores “the deterioration” of the education system. “We don't understand the situation,” he complains. He believes that “the situation is tense and that is why the PSEA should have gotten closer to private colleges by taking into consideration the grievances of the managers of non-fee-paying private colleges,” he insists.

Another participant in the meeting who requested anonymity and whose daughters attend the Lorette College in Curepipe, said he was “saddened to see that managers of private and religious colleges have enormous difficulty in managing their establishments”. “As parents, we often wonder about the quality of education provided to our children at school. But when I see all the hassle that managers have in running colleges, I realize that it is normal that our children's education suffers. The worst is when we understand that the government's per capita expenditure on state colleges is high compared to what our children receive. I am outraged!” he protests.

Despite the tensions, some parents remain optimistic. “I believe the situation can be resolved through dialogue,” says Sheila, a mother. “I am sure we can coexist in harmony, while providing better education to our children, whether at the PSEA or the state level. The interest of the child must come first. Every child must have the right to all-round social development, and that is why we must absolutely provide all the necessary facilities and other support,” she insists.

Diana, another mother, agrees. “We want a consensus so that our children are not penalized. The new system has too many restrictions that are detrimental to them. Our request is simple: that the PSEA allows our schools to operate as before. There must be a systematic inspection, as has always been the case,” she says.

According to the PSEA, the New Comprehensive Grant Formula (a grant awarded by the PSEA to meet the needs of colleges; Editor's note) aims to modernize the education system. However, the decisions taken have sparked anger among managers of private non-fee colleges, who speak of “excessive and unfair” measures. According to Armand Tadebois, the manager of St Joseph College, “the PSEA is tightening the belts of private non-fee colleges.” “We had a partnership in place since 1976. But since 2020, the situation has become intolerable,” he regrets.

Dr Jimmy Harmon, Deputy Head of SeDEC, pointed out that Saturday’s meeting would not have been necessary if PSEA had acted differently. He specified that the Federation of Managers is not looking for “any confrontation”. “Running a college is not easy, especially when you work with children. We must redouble our attention and efforts. Private colleges are facing difficulties, and education in Mauritius is under threat. Each college has its specificities. When a child comes to school, he must learn. Some will become doctors or lawyers, while others will excel in the technical field. We are not afraid. If someone is not doing his job properly, we will say so. The way PSEA does things prevents us from providing quality education,” he maintains.

Mike Fanjoo, the Federation's vice-president and president of the Catholic Colleges Union, says: “All private college expenditures are audited. The PSEA has introduced a Grant Formula where they tell us what to do. Private colleges cannot operate because we are spending from our own funds. Our reserves are depleted. We are overdrawn with our respective banks.”

For Ramdass Ellayah, president of the Federation of Private Non-Feeing Colleges, which brings together private, Christian and non-Christian denominational colleges, “since the introduction of free education, this is the first time that we have reached such a level. It is as if we (Editor's note: the PSEA) were controlling our schools, because everything we do must be justified. The wife is a minister and the husband is the head of the PSEA,” he says.

He urges parents to make their voices heard: “We are fighting for the rights of your children. We have done our best. But as parents, you have to say 'enough is enough' and demand that your children have the same rights as those attending state colleges.”

A PTA federation in gestation

Le Dimanche/L'Hebdo is faced with information that a federation of Parent's Teacher's Associations (PTA) is in the making. The aim is to give a helping hand to managers of non-fee-paying private colleges.

Shiv Luchoomun's actions under scrutiny

Is Shiv Luchoomun living his last days as director of PSEA? According to our information, the latter's actions are being closely monitored by the government. A source in the relevant circles points out that “it is these private, non-fee-paying colleges that have produced the intelligence of the country…”

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