About 5,5 million children have benefited from the Basic Education Assistance Module since its inception in 2002, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare secretary Mr Ngoni Masoka has said. He made the remarks when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on Monday.
Gutu East MP, Cde Berita Chikwama (Zanu-PF) chairs the committee.
Mr Masoka said the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) had pledged to provide US$10 million towards BEAM this year. He said the decline in the total number of beneficiaries from 2010 was attributable to the annual increase in levy fees by schools.
“The year 2009 marked the revival of BEAM programme after the hyper inflationary period had severely undermined the functioning of the programme.
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“The programme became functional during the third school term hence the figure of US$5 million released by donors was to cover third term for primary schools.
“The targets reached in secondary schools funded by Government are not being met timeously due to delayed release of funds from Treasury,” said Mr Masoka.
He said the selection of beneficiaries was based on their socio-economic vulnerability. Chegutu West legislator, Cde Dexter Nduna said there was need for the ministry to prioritise disadvantaged children in rural areas including those who lived in resettlement areas where there were no proper school structures.
A director in the ministry, Mr Togarepi Chinake said the National Aids Council had contributed about US$800 000 towards BEAM. He said the ministry had also requested the council to consider availing more funds toward the facility. MDC-T legislator for Binga North Mr Prince Sibanda asked if the ministry paid examination fees for pupils BEAM beneficiaries.