COUNCIL-RUN schools in Bulawayo are owed nearly $2 million in unpaid fees and levies for the first term by parents and the government, a development, which has reportedly affected education standards in the city.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Latest minutes of the council’s health, housing and education committee indicate that government has failed to remit fees paid under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) since the second term of 2014.
“The director of health services (Zanele Hwalima) reported that the first term of 2016 had come and gone in a flash with very little income having been received in terms of council levies,” the minutes read in part.
“Total enrolment in the council’s 30 schools stood at 3 9 341 pupils. Expected revenue, including arrears, was $2 374 258,50. The actual amount paid at the close of the first term was $470 828 with $1 903 431 outstanding.
“This was a huge figure, which adversely affects service delivery, as the majority of parents were struggling to pay fees for their children despite concerted efforts by heads of schools to get these monies paid.”
Hwalima said the government last remitted Beam money in 2014, leaving many of the beneficiaries in arrears.
“The central government Beam programme had last paid school fees for beneficiaries during the second term (2014).
As such, a number of beneficiaries had completed their primary school education with arrears,” the reports read.
“Lack of payment of Beam school fees by central government was demoralising those parents that paid fees on time.
“In 2015, there were no Beam funds allocated to schools and government still owed third term 2014 fees for the orphaned and vulnerable pupils. It was noted that this term schools had provisionally indicated amounts set aside for Beam beneficiaries.
“It was hoped that government sought alternative funding for this programme. Beam arrears had moved up to
$68 869 for council levies and $76 900 for Parent Teacher Association levies.”
Bulawayo mayor, Martin Moyo and his deputy, Gift Banda could not be reached for comment yesterday on what council will do to recover the money. Council, at one point engaged debt collectors to recover the money, but this attracted a backlash from parents, who felt hard done by the move. The government has also warned schools against engaging debt collectors and chasing away pupils over unpaid fees.