BULAWAYO – Parents in Zimbabwe are spending too much time drinking beer and talking on cellphones instead of paying fees for their children.
Education minister David Coltart said it is up to parents to spend less time talking over the cellphones and less on drinking beer to make sure fees are paid.
“As government we do not have enough money to fund education, and I am very serious about this,” Coltart told a Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (Bpra) Social Accountability conference on Saturday.
He said only 20 000 out of 400 000 children are currently benefiting from the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) because of lack of funding.
“Currently, 380 000 children are not getting funding under Beam from the 400 000 on the programme because there is no money,” he said.
Beam is a government social protection programme implemented by the ministry of Labour and Social Services and meant for orphans and vulnerable children.
He added that Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) body is doing a great job although there were some cases of examination papers leakages this year.
“When I took office on February 13, 2008, Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations had not been marked and therefore the public had totally lost confidence in Zimsec. But we have restored stability in Zimsec.
“Parents now have great confidence in Zimsec. We have seen a great increase in the number of children registering to write Zimsec examinations,” said Coltart.
Zimbabwe’s education system was once among the best in Africa, though it is now suffering a detrimental decline in public funding.
Until the mid-1990s, Zimbabwe had achieved primary education for all and secondary education for the majority (65 percent).
Coltart said it is surprising that this country, even after independence spends more money on defence than education.
In September President Robert Mugabe official opened the National Defence College in Harare.
The college was built through a $98 million-loan from the Chinese government. – Pindai Dube