Tuesday, 24 May 2011 13:57

ZIMBABWE: Education Minister Says Each Child Allocated Only U.S.$2 Per Month


Education Minister David Coltart has revealed that each child in Zimbabwe has been allocated just under US$2 per month in the budget towards their education. Coltart made the shocking revelation on Tuesday during an Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) roundtable discussion.

The figure represents a slight improvement on the US$1 per child, previously cited by the minister last year, but will do little to pacify critics who point to government leaders and ministers blowing tens of millions of dollars on foreign trips.

Last month Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned that foreign trips by Mugabe to Asia for medical treatment, plus trips by ministers, may blow up to US$50 million this year alone if they are not curbed.

"The situation is out of hand. It's alarming. It's frightening. It's criminal that you can spend $12.5 million on travelling and you can't put that money either into health or education," he said. Biti was referring to the US$12 million reportedly used by Mugabe, just for his Asian trips. Last year's travel bill was US$28 million.

In the first two decades after independence between US$4 to US$6 was allocated per child for textbooks and other expenses, but years of corruption and mismanagement under the ZANU PF regime has seen that figure plummet.

Coltart appealed to the international community to support the struggling education sector, arguing that such support would not prop up the regime responsible for gross human rights abuses but would instead be an investment in the future and help the transition.

Meanwhile the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has slammed the chasing away from school of children who have failed to pay their fees. Since Tuesday numerous schools in the city have been sending children home, contrary to the announced government policy.

Coltart has repeatedly said school authorities should not disrupt children's education for failing to raise fees, but headmasters claim they have not received this instruction in writing. Roderick Fayayo from the BPRA told SW Radio Africa that there was a clear disconnect between statements by Coltart and the reality on the ground.

The BPRA has even claimed some children are being "chased away from school for non-payment of teachers' incentives."

Source: SW Radio Africa (London, United Kingdom)

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