Increase education budget — Unicef

HARARE - Zimbabwe must  increase its financial investment to implement a new education sector plan that outlines all the priorities for the next five years, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has said.

The ministry was allocated $890 million in the 2015 national Budget but 98 percent of the funds were taken up by employment costs leaving it to rely on donors.

Peter de Vries, Unicef education chief, told the Daily News recently there was need for a new education sector plan that outlines all the priorities for the next five years.

“The government will increase its financial investment to implement the sector plan.

“This is not possible from day one to day two but requires a medium to longer term approach.

“The curriculum review process is ongoing and we expect a new curriculum framework by the end of March. The ministry of Primary and Secondary Education managed the process very well and it was a very consultative process. It included involvement from students, teachers, the private sector, teacher unions, head teachers and many more,” he said.

“The ministry of Education should disseminate selected education statistics to the general public, for example by putting it on a website.

“It will provide more clarity on the actual situation of education and the progress made over the past five years,” de Vries said.

“One example is the Grade 7 and ‘O’ Level pass rates. These have actually gradually improved over the past five years.”

Unicef supports the ministry of Education to implement its education sector plan and manages the Education Development Fund (EDF) funded to the tune of $115 million between 2012-2015. Donors to the EDF are Germany, DfID, the EU, Sweden, OSISA, Finland, Norway.

Unicef also manages the Global Partnership for Education support to Zimbabwe pegged at $23 million for three years.  Last year, Unicef spent $50 million on Zimbabwe’s education sector.

De Vries said key strategies include provision of textbooks for core subjects and School Improvement Grant.

“In 2014, a total of $23 million went directly to schools for implementation of their school development plan,” he said. “The amount for rural primary schools was $4 366 per year.

“In 2015, the amount for satellite schools will increase to $6 500. This will also help satellite schools to improve their school infrastructure.”

Unicef and other donors working with the ministry of Education are responsible for the curriculum review process, teacher development, teacher professional standards, early learning, second chance education where 30 000 children who were out of school are brought back into school and 15 000 young people benefit from agricultural skills development. It is also into early childhood education, including the provision of Early Child Development  kits and training of ECD paraprofessionals, education management information systems and also provides lots of education statistics, teacher development information system and education sector plan.

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