Beam: Govt fails to pay fees for underprivileged school children

GOVERNMENT has reportedly failed to pay tuition fees for pupils under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) over the past two years, causing a severe financial squeeze on several schools run by the Bulawayo City Council.

NQOBANI NDLOVU

The local authority’s health, housing and education committee has urged beneficiaries of the scheme, mostly orphaned and disadvantaged children, to raise their own tuition fees.

Zimbabwe-school-children

The committee said the government failed in 2014 and 2015 to pay its Beam obligations citing financial challenges.

“No payments were received for Beam students all year round,” the committee said. “It remained uncertain if the government would pay these fees or not and this impacts negatively on council as the Beam children should continue with their education despite non-payment.

“The government had indicated that it had financial challenges and would not be able to pay for beneficiaries under the Beam programme. Indications were that Beam funds would not be paid to schools.

“Beneficiaries were, therefore, encouraged to raise their own funds and pay school fees. Some council school had collected school fees because of the headmasters’ initiatives. Councillors were encouraged to work with schools in their wards.”

Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The minutes also showed that council schools were owed over a million by parents and guardians, with city fathers warning that this could affect the quality of education.

“The total paid for tuition fees as at the end of the third term was $489 987, while $1 090 736,50 was owed for this and previous terms. This was an alarming figure for non-payment for educational services by the majority of parents in all the council schools,” read the minutes.

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