Blessings Chidakwa Herald Reporter
Government will, beginning next year, provide school uniforms and stationery for needy students under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) to improve their welfare.
At least $2 billion has been provisionally budgeted for BEAM, whose beneficiaries are expected to increase from 950 000 to 1,5 million next year.
Speaking in Harare this week during a national policy discussion on ending violence against children, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Simon Masanga said there was a likelihood of increasing the provisional $2 billion BEAM budget to cater for more beneficiaries.
“The target is to make sure we cover about 1,5 million from the current 950 000.
“These 1,5 million are not just benefitting from tuition fees. There will also be uniforms and stationery.
“We feel as a ministry that uniforms are necessary as one was being labelled a BEAM child because of lack of basic uniform and this is the area we want to plug in 2021.”
BEAM covers primary, second and tertiary education.
The improved assistance to low-income members of society, comes as the country is reeling from the ravaging effects of Covid-19.
Mr Masanga said officials were working round the clock to ensure the completion of the exercise of realigning the budget to put more resources to mobility, particularly at district level.
BEAM was set up in 2000 to provide school fees for disadvantaged pupils and for 2020 financial year, $450 million was budgeted for the scheme.
Since inception, the programme has been funded by Central Government with development partners sometimes chipping in.
Mr Masanga said apart from BEAM, Government would channel more resources to the Department of Social Welfare under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
This was part of ongoing efforts to improve the well-being of people with Treasury buying 60 vehicles for the social welfare department to enable officials to conduct their duties.
He also took a swipe at some Non-Governmental Organisations disregarding the clearly laid down Government protocols when carrying out their duties in the country.
“There is need to come up with an integrated system so that NGOs and Government can work together,” he said.