Government admits BEAM fees were not paid and arrears exceed $57 million

The government is struggling to pay the fees of more than a million disadvantaged schoolchildren enrolled in its Basic Education Assistance Model (BEAM).

This was revealed by Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Mthuli Ncube during a question and answer session at the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Responding to a question from Emakhandeni-Luveve MP Discent Bajila (CCC), Ncube said the government owed schools $57 million in BEAM arrears until the end of the 2023 financial year.

It said that during the 2023 financial year, 1,515,047 children registered for financial support under BEAM. Ncube said:

The government allocated ZWL 77.5 billion out of a ZWL 23 billion budget, thereby reducing school fee arrears and clearing ZIMSEC exam arrears by 2023.

Despite previous efforts, resource constraints exacerbated by changes in the macroeconomic environment resulted in the accumulation of arrears for BEAM, amounting to the equivalent of US$57 million (ZIG772 million) at the end of the financial year. 2023 financial year.

In the 2024 budget, ZWL 805,087,608 and now ZWL 322,163,908 million were allocated to serve BEAM. However, due to limited fiscal space, the budget cannot fully cover arrears, which is limited to covering both arrears and current fee obligations.

To this end, the Treasury will ensure the release of the entire budget in line with current rate payments to curb further accumulation of arrears.

The Treasury will also work to find additional budget over the course of the year to prioritize paying arrears to marginalized schools so that service delivery is not compromised.

The government has prohibited school principals and School Development Committees (COSUD) from dismissing students if parents and guardians do not pay tuition.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Edgar Moyo said schools should hire debt collectors to deal with parents who fail to pay their children’s school fees. He said:

Legally, school authorities can hire debt collectors to recover unpaid school fees instead of turning away students.

In fact, we have constantly advised our school authorities to interact with parents or guardians to pay school fees and charges without even sending students out of school.

In the event that parents or guardians are unable to pay all required fees and charges, the ministry has gone on record to recommend that school authorities enter into a flexible payment plan.

However, we want to urge parents or guardians to respect the payment plans they enter into with school authorities.

In 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law the Education Amendment Act which obliges the State to provide free basic education as stipulated in Article 27 of the Constitution.

In the run-up to the 2018 and 2023 general elections, the Government promised free basic education, but has failed to deliver on its promises.

More: Pindula News


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