BY METHEMBE SIBANDA
FOUR million children are failing to pay fees and are now clamouring for government’s Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) programme, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has said.
In its latest report released last week, Zimcodd also said 30 000 students failed to register for their final examinations last year after failing to afford Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) fees.
“Although government’s efforts are commendable, it is sad to note that approximately four million children are in need of Beam, but only 160 782 managed to receive government assistance, pointing to the meagre spending towards HCD [human capital development],” Zimcodd said.
“Parents across the country failed to pay for their children’s school fees leading to a mass dropout in 2021. A 2,03% decrease was witnessed with 49 128 candidates as compared to 50 287 in 2020. The reduction in numbers of students who registered with Zimsec for Advanced Level did not come as a surprise to Zimcodd, as one of its weekly reviews in 2021 lamented how 30 000 students had failed to register. This points to weak social protection policies with respect to education.”
Zimcodd said as of August 2021, government had only paid for 160 782 children fees, amounting to $432 834 468.
Zimcodd said it had carried out the rapid survey to determine if government had increased Beam uptake and if it was releasing the Beam funds on time.
The survey established that while government was paying Beam, many schools had not received Beam fees for the first term, although a few had received and the last payments having been made in March.
The survey also determined that the low number of Beam beneficiaries indicated that government was either unwilling or failing to support the vulnerable children.
Zimcodd implored the Primary and Secondary Education as well as the Finance and Economic Development ministries to prioritise education by adequately funding Beam to ensure that every vulnerable child gets an equal opportunity to learn.
Public Service minister Paul Mavima said: ”Government is only giving assistance to one and a half million children this year. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said by next year, the government will start State-funded basic education, so all the children will be taken care of next year.”