There was drama on Tuesday evening at Baobab School in Gaborone as parents walked out of a meeting addressed by management, protesting over lack of consultation during the sale of the school to Curro Holdings -a South African company. Board chairperson Felicity Leburu Sianga informed parents that only the operations of the school have been sold at the tune of P65 million in order to improve the quality of education offered by the school. She, however, said the facilities at the school have not been sold as part of the transaction. Although Baobab School is owned and has been operated by a private company, the livid parents said the shareholders/ directors should have consulted them out of courtesy before selling the school, rather than only learning about the sale from letters given to their children. “We are talking about citizen empowerment and wonder why you didn’t inform us as your stakeholder that you intend to sell the school. You coud have given us a chance to invest in the school. Now it has been given away to a foreign company,” lamented one parent. Sianga stood her ground, informing the parents that the Tuesday meeting was just to share information but not consultation as the contract with Curro Holdings has already been signed.Parents expressed shock that even Minister of Basic Education, Unity Dow, who is one of the owners of the school did not see the need to consult stakeholders. Their biggest concern is that the new management company could increase school fees to enjoy good returns on their investment, but Sianga assured them that the fee will only be increased based on inflation.
Another reason that infuriated parents and forced them to walk out of the meeting was failure by the school board to state why Curro officials were not at the meeting as promised in the invitation letter. “I think is better we leave now because you guys are taking us for granted. You told us Curro officials will be here but now you are changing tone and saying tomorrow,” said an angry parent leading to exodus from the hall, despite an explanation by Sianga that the officials will only be available on Wednesday. A representative of the parents Akim Setswalo told The Patriot on Sunday that they were planning to meet on Wednesday and map the way forward. “We want to meet with management to register our displeasure and engage the new company because we are an important stakeholder and should be consulted,” he said. Curro Holdings which is listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was involved in the multibillion-rand uniform monopoly which is currently probed by the Competition Authority of South Africa. Parents at some of their 144 schools in South Africa complained about their over pricing of school uniforms through their sister company Professional Sourcing and Procurement Assist (PSPA) – which supplies clothing, sports equipment and school office furniture. Baobab is the second school bought by Curro Holdings in Botswana after they acquired 50% stake in Ba Isago University in 2016.