Government’s allocation for the education sector decreased from 16.5% in 2021 to 13.4% in 2022. It further falls short of the 20% Dakar Education for All commitment. At the same time, school fees in Zimbabwe have become relatively expensive considering salaries of most civil servants. Boarding schools are averaging a minimum USD300 or equivalent in local currency whilst secondary day schools charge about USD30 per term in urban centres (Mate, 2018).
Examination fees have also gone beyond the reach of the majority as Ordinary Level examinations are priced at USD15 per subject. These charges encroach on access to education especially for the marginalized poor children. To this end, over 30 000 students failed to register for ZIMSEC local examinations and this undermines universal access to education particularly for girls and children from resource poor backgrounds. It is also against government`s commitment to have an optimum human capital by 2030 as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Exchange rate disparities in a highly inflationary environment have contributed to steep price hikes for the complimentary goods and services pertinent for children to access education particularly transport, uniforms and gadgets for remote learning. As wages have also gone down significantly, workers such as the majority of civil servants who earn in local currency have faced serious challenges in facilitating access to educational and complimentary schooling activities paid for in Rand and US Dollar currency. The hardships have been further exacerbated by the fact that there continues to exist a huge mismatch between salaries and incomes being earned by civil servants. Be that as it may be enough, the Zimbabwean economy is highly informal with over 80% people depending on it.
The informal economy is still struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic yet majority of school children their parents depend on it. This attest to the difficulties that Zimbabweans are encountering in paying school and examination fees. The decline in government`s education spending has affected the once glorified Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) thereby limiting its coverage. This has worsened inequalities in access to education as many children in turn fail to pay for schools and examination fees. In 2019 the government supported 415 000 children under BEAM and the coverage increased to 1 million children in 2020, in 2022 the government will support 1.5 million children against 4.6 million children in need of formal and informal education1 . The BEAM facility has also been wanting as it is now failing to pay for children`s examination fees. All this is due to government reduction in education spending which is also low among regional peers.