UK plugs Beam funding gap

HARARE - The United Kingdom (UK) government has committed $650 million to ensure the poorest people in Zimbabwe have access to basic services such as education, health, water and sanitation.

Out of the total amount that is spread between 2011 and 2015, around $100 million will be channelled towards the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) through the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).

Of the $100 million, $10 million will be distributed next month to beneficiaries at primary schools around the country.

The support from DfID comes as a shot in the arm for the country’s vulnerable children dependent on State assistance to pay school fees.

The children faced the spectre of dropping out of school following revelations that government was struggling to raise funds for their education.

Under Beam, the government needs $73 million to pay school fees for orphans and disadvantaged children.

This comes after Public Service ministry permanent secretary, Ngoni Masoka, last month told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Social Welfare, that only $15 million was budgeted for Beam this fiscal year, a figure he said was grossly insufficient.

Masoka informed legislators that the situation had been compounded by the withdrawal of donors such as Unicef and the United Kingdom Aid (Ukaid)’s DfID.

Jane Rintoul, the head of the DfID office in Harare, said in a press statement yesterday that the department would avail $10 million next month to help over 250 000 children eligible for the Beam.

Rintoul said the money that will be distributed to 5 415 primary and special schools throughout the country will contribute to higher attendance and completion rates among orphans and vulnerable children.

The additional funding, Rintoul said, was in response to the government of Zimbabwe’s request last month to DfID to provide further support to Beam in addition to the $27 million provided between 2012 and 2013.

She urged government to redouble its efforts to find alternative sources of funding, saying this year’s contribution could be the last by the UK.

“The UK is very pleased to be able to provide this additional support which I know will make a huge difference to the lives of children who will benefit along with their families and the wider communities,” Rintoul said.

Rintoul welcomed government’s policy directive to freeze increases in school fees and levies this year.

The DfID boss said is if the move is enforced, it will help to reduce any drop in the number of children supported under this year’s Beam programme.

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has led to job losses, making it impossible for growing numbers of parents to pay tuition fees.

Unemployment now stands at 80 percent, and is rising as businesses continue to fold.

Comments (1)

Are these the same hated British who imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe?

Johno - 27 February 2014

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