via Government owes $79 million in unpaid education bills | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda November 19, 2013
It has been revealed that government owes about $15 million in secondary school fees for students supported under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) and an additional $64 million is owed to tertiary institutions in the country, according to the NewsDay newspaper.
The report said Parliamentary Portfolio Committees that deal with education heard evidence from two Public Service officials on Monday, both of whom revealed that no funds had been remitted by government since the beginning of the year.
Appearing before the Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, director of Social Services Sydney Mhishi reported that the Ministry had paid primary school fees for Beam students, but the bill for secondary school students has not been paid.
The Director of University Education Martha Muguti appeared before the Higher and Tertiary Education Committee, and reported that only $50 000 out of a budget of $380 million had been received by her Ministry. She also said government owes $64 million for about 44, 000 students under cadetship programmes.
The former Minister of Education, Sport, Art and Culture, David Coltart, said everyone agrees that education is a priority, but the sector has been “woefully underfunded” for the last two decades.
He explained that the Education Ministry employs two thirds of the civil servants’ force with 809, 000 teachers and a huge administrative infrastructure that includes over 8,000 schools. But this has not translated into funding.
“In June we only received $20,000 dollars to run that entire infrastructure so that just demonstrates that there has not been any political will. They say that education is a priority but it’s just talk. It’s not backed up by any money,” Coltart said.
He added that at least 380,000 children who are orphans or disadvantaged in some way qualified for the Beam programme last year, but were turned away due to a shortage of funds. Many end up on the streets.
The country’s educational system was once regarded as one of the best on the continent, if not the world, and Zimbabwean students went on to excel in other countries. Coltart the country still produces “high calibre” students, but many are failing to graduate because they cannot continue their education.