Beam assists 500 000 children

HARARE - Half a million school pupils will benefit from the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) after government and its partners committed resources to ensure sustenance of the programme.

Beam is a school fees assistance programme targeted at vulnerable children of school-going age nationwide and aims at reducing the number of children dropping out, and reaching out to children who have never been to school due to economic hardships.

Speaking at the official launch of this year’s Beam programme at Fungisai Primary School in Chitungwiza yesterday, Labour and Social Services minister Paurina Mpariwa said government and the United Kingdom Aid (UKaid’s) Department for International Development (DfID) had provided $15 million and $12 million for secondary and primary school support respectively, benefiting 500 000 pupils with school fees.

“I am pleased to announce that in 2013, Beam partners have once again committed resources to the programme to ensure its sustenance,” Mpariwa said.

“Government has allocated $15 million, the National Aids Council will provide $800 000 while DfID has provided $12million and the funds have been allocated to the first and second terms notwithstanding the effects of increases in levies.”

Mpariwa said the investment case for supporting children’s access to education is apparent and that it has been highlighted at various fora.

“The Beam report for 2012 indicates that only 49 percent (boys) and 58 percent (girls) of the children identified as in need of Beam were supported in 2010 and 2011 respectively. This indicates that a lot more children are failing to access education with demand far outstriping supply.

“Children with disabilities from special schools will also be supported from 25 special schools eligible for Beam support and 742 resource units.”

DfID head of mission in Harare Jane Rintoul said the British government cared about Zimbabwean children and would continue to support them by funding their education.

“Contrary to what you read in the newspapers, the British government cares about Zimbabwean children especially because we realise that both the parents and pupils value education,” said Rintoul.

“In Norton I was touched by one pupil who told me that she was poor but rich in mind. We are therefore going to help 5 400 vulnerable primary school children this year and this we have been doing since 2009.”
She added that the biggest challenge was for government to determine the most effective way to ensure the programme helps those who are genuinely needy.

Meanwhile, David Coltart, minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture urged parents of children under the Beam programme to vote ‘yes’ during this Saturday’s constitutional referendum saying their children would soon get free primary education as envisaged in the draft.

“Although I have reservations about the draft constitution that we will vote for or against on Saturday, the major reason why as parents we must vote ‘yes’ is that it gives our children basic education rights.

They would not have to be vetted for Beam because the State will be obliged to take care of that need,” said Coltart.

Coltart said his ministry through its development partners had managed to stabilise the education sector that had deteriorated due  to an economic meltdown. -
Mugove Tafirenyika

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