President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday appeared to be backtracking on his government’s commitment to providing free basic education.
Mnangagwa said the government will ensure that it avails resources to cater to disadvantaged children in primary and secondary schools including those with disabilities.
He was addressing hundreds of schoolchildren drawn from all the country’s provinces during a pre-Independence children’s party held in Mt Darwin. The President said:
My government will ensure policies and programmes that help the livelihoods of our children; this includes access to quality education, from different backgrounds, arts and culture.
My government will make resources available for disadvantaged children in primary and secondary schools including those with disabilities, this will lead to the full enjoyment of our independence by young people.
Mnangagwa, however, said his government was committed to continuing to provide scholarships. He said:
The national presidential scholarship is supporting talented and underprivileged children so that they can also go to universities, I also thank other countries who are offering scholarships to our people.
Zimbabwe created free and compulsory primary and secondary education in 1980, soon after attaining independence.
However, parents had to pay building levies as well as sports fees for buying equipment and material.
The government has committed to providing free basic education starting in 2023.
However, the absence of a funding mechanism for free basic education implies that parental contribution will remain high.
Part of the implementation of the free basic education policy has seen the Government subsidising the payment of Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) registration fees by up to 55 percent for every learner.
The government fully pays the registration fees for learners under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM).
BEAM was established in 2001 by the government to cater for learners that could not afford the school fees such as Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).