An Analysis of the ZWL 600 Million Schools Re-Opening Budget
This week’s reader is focused on public financing of education in Zimbabwe especially the more recent allocation of ZWL600 Million Schools Re-Opening Budget. The 2013 National Constitution provides the national vision and goal for education. Section 27 (i) specifically outlines that the State must take all practical measures to promote (a) free and compulsory basic education for children; and (b) higher and tertiary education. Although education is constitutionally guaranteed, millions of Zimbabwean children, particularly girls and children from rural and resource poor backgrounds have been adversely affected by the yearlong disruption to education.
Based on the outcome of a recently held Indaba on public finance management and ZIMCODD’s own analysis, the following key issues are essential in ensuring that government improves the welfare of learners and teachers within the current context.
- Government has perennially been underspending on education. This has reduced the capacity of our education system to withstand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ZWL600 million schools reopening budget is vastly inadequate to address the back to school needs of Zimbabwean learners and ensure adequate preparation for exam classes. Government is urged to consider a supplementary budget to strengthen schools’ ability to comply with WHO guidelines. A Parliament-led inquiry into the use and distribution of the ZWL600 million schools reopening budget is vital to restore public confidence.
- Most schools and teaching staff were inadequately prepared for schools reopening. In the absence of clear guidelines and set standards different schools in different areas have adopted different strategies. These strategies combining face to face, remote and virtual learning according to each School’s capacity. Most will end at the two day learning week minimum authorised by Government. There is need for the Government to issue clear standard guidelines to protect children and ensure their access to education in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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