Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
School fees for 859 000 children has so far this year been paid through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) and the Government is targeting 1,5 million for next year.
This year the budget allocation of $2 billion assisted 446 844 children with development partners, impressed by the programme and Government commitment, coming in with help for another 175 592, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said in his budget speech last week as he announced the near-doubling of children who would be helped with tuition, uniforms and stationery.
This will mean that close to a third of all schoolchildren will be helped next year as the Government is determined that no child should be denied the opportunity to attend school because of poverty of parents or other reasons.
This is part of the general drive to turn theoretical rights into practical programmes, largely by finding adequate funds.
Speaking recently at a dinner organised by Teen Rescue Mission, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima, said Government was working towards ensuring a safe environment for vulnerable children through the Department of Social Development in his ministry.
Besides opening the doors to education in a practical way, his ministry was increasing awareness, understanding of child protection issues, and the gains to be derived from the protection of children.
This year, the BEAM assistance also included, besides tuition, the uniforms and stationery children needed,
Minister Mavima raised concern over the scourge of illicit drug abuse by some schoolchildren saying Government has put in place measures to stop the practices.
“A consolidated work plan is now available and the budget was shared with the Treasury.
“As a ministry, we are tracking drug abuse through the National Case Management System and the statistics are available on request.
“My ministry is also engaging with development partners working on parenting and sharing strategies to prevent drug abuse and create a standard parenting programme to tackle substance abuse.”
Children needed to be kept in a safe environment without exposing them to harm or abuse which will resultantly affect their development and so Government was committed to ensuring that all people can realise their constitutional rights and potential through the upholding of dignity and equality for all.
Minister Mavima added that Zimbabwe continued to take concrete steps to fully implement the National Social Protection policy framework in its development efforts.
“Provision of social support and care to members of society unable to help themselves, particularly orphans and vulnerable children, persons with disabilities and older persons, returnees and deportees is the mandate of the Department of Social Development,” he said.
“All stakeholders and interested persons are free to approach any social development office within their proximity to access services. At the same time, the Government of Zimbabwe is strengthening the capacity of social workers, and other social service professionals to provide social support and care to vulnerable groups.
“Funding of social protection is a responsibility of the State. However, because of limited resources, this has led the Government to mobilise additional resources from other sources in order to ensure that the funding is adequate, consistent, predictable and sustainable with the objective of reducing poverty, inequality and vulnerability.”