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Zimbabwe: About a million students to miss school after let-down in education budget

By Janet Shoko
Posted on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 12:48

Under its Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), the government intended to fund 750 000 primary and 250 000 secondary school students this year, but under the 2014 national budget the education sector was allocated only $15 million.

The allocation can only cater for 83 000 secondary school students.

The government pays $60 per secondary schoolchild, amounting to $45 million per year and $8 per primary schoolchild, amounting to $28 million per year.

This means 167 000 targeted secondary school pupils and all 750 000 targeted primary school pupils will miss out unless funding is secured.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare director, Sydney Mhishi revealed this on Tuesday when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service.

“For BEAM, the ministry got $15 million instead of $73 million and the allocated budget will only assist 83 000 against the targeted 250 000 vulnerable children, and the implication is that 167 000 children would not be able to access government assistance for secondary school,” he said.

According to Mhishi, European Union countries used to pool resources and channel them to the United Nations Childern’s Fund, which would then pay the fees, but this arrangement has since been stopped.

“Their argument was that primary education must be free and compulsory,” he said.

“The current circumstance is that there will be no free primary education. We still think they (DfID) might come again. They have not responded and schools open today (Tuesday). If they don’t come, it means government will have to look for the money.”

Mhishi said his ministry had formally communicated to donors seeking assistance for BEAM, but they had not yet responded to the request.

BEAM was created in 2000 to assist poor and marginalised children access quality education and ensure they do not drop out of school.

However, since the country’s economic fortunes took a downturn, the Zimbabwean government has had to revise its promise of making education free.

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