Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe government has set aside $200 million to pilot a grant-in-aid of tuition programme for vulnerable schools as it moves to provide free basic education as dictated by the national Constitution, a senior government official has said.
The constitution bids the state to, “Take all practical measures to promote free and compulsory basic education for children and higher and tertiary education.”
Over the years, the government was paying school fees for selected vulnerable students through the Basic Assistance Education Module (BEAM).
But through the grant-in-aid of tuition programme, the government would be directly funding vulnerable schools so that they offer free basic education.
Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela said an assessment would be carried out to identify beneficiaries of the programme.
“Government has already started to move (towards) gradual provision of free or state funded education. This year Treasury has allocated $200 million towards a pilot where we will start with the most vulnerable (schools) to give grant- in-aid of tuition, so already Government is beginning to move to fulfill the dictates of the Constitution,” she said.
“When we want to intervene we start with the most vulnerable and you are aware that in Zimbabwe there are quite a number of instruments or tools that are used to measure vulnerability and in our case we are going to be looking at in which parts of our 10 provinces do we have populations with the least, possibly, income.
“We will also use our schools, the revenue that they have had year on year and after that we then choose a number of schools who we target so that we start bottom up in terms of empowering the most marginalised.”
Thabela said the programme was also being motivated by Sustainable Development Goal 4, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
“The criterion is we have to start with the poorest of them,” she said.
Government has made plans to expand its social protection measures this year through several programmes including a $ZWL 200 million free sanitary wear provision programme for female learners in rural areas.
It has also targeted to expand the BEAM programme to cover one million orphans and other vulnerable learners up from 415 000 last year.