THE Mpumalanga education department is on a drive to shut down unregistered independent schools in the province.

On Wednesday, 12 May, department officials and the police closed down Everest College of Excellence in Msholozi outside White River after it was found to be operating illegally.

The college, which was established in 2018, had 102 pupils and 18 staff members.

Acting chief director Sibusiso Zwane told Daily Sun they did not want to compromise the quality of education.

“We have already targeted four schools that are unregistered.

“We would like to warn the public, especially parents, that they should ask for the school’s registration details when they register their children, which should be placed at the entrance or at the office,” he said.

Zwane said affected pupils will be taken to neighbouring schools.

He also called on residents to help them identify such schools.

“We have lost a lot of teaching and learning time due to Covid-19.

“We cannot allow illegal or unregistered schools to further put a strain on the department and frustrate the poorest of the poor who want education for a better life.

“We warn everybody to desist from such activities because it‘s a criminal offence that comes with a fine and a jail term,” said Zwane

Meanwhile the owner of the school, Robby Ntimba, said he had been trying to register the school for the past two years, but the process was slow and things got worse due to Covid-19.

“My school is in the process of registration,” he said.

“I submitted my application forms two years ago. There was no inspection last year because of Covid-19 and the process is moving slowly.

“I’m very surprised police are shutting down my school and I don’t understand because officials from the department know where I live. Why didn’t they make an appointment with me before they embarrass the pupils, parents and the community?”