By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Chegutu West Member of Parliament Dexter Nduna shocked the August house on Tuesday after he echoed some rare utterances when he said Headmasters who chase away students for non-payment of school fees through a government funded program called Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) should be sentenced to death.
The Chegutu West legislator was reacting to a report that had been tabled before Parliament by the committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
The report revealed a lot of anomalies which include nepotism, corruption and delays surrounding the selection criteria of pupils benefiting from the scheme.
To date BEAM has seen only 5 442 352 students benefiting since its inception fifteen years ago.
The scheme was created to benefit vulnerable children failing to pay school fees because both parents lacked the capacity, orphaned and child headed families among other considerations.
BEAM which falls under the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare while the ministry of Education plays the implementation role, its sole mandate was to reduce the number of school dropouts although many students are still out of school.
The report also indicated that BEAM had last remitted payment of fees in schools second term of 2013 and the Ordinary Level examination fees of 2015 are still yet to be paid.
The Parliamentarian raised concern over the gaps within the scheme as it only pay school fees, levies and examination fees, with some reports of students who were sent away because they didn’t have a complete school uniforms.
Opposition legislator for MDC-T Ronia Bunjira pleaded with Government to totally scrap off payment of fees and offer education free to every citizen.
“We received a lot of negative reports on BEAM, delays by the Community Selection Committee (CSCs) and the late release of the funds, why can’t Government make education free to everyone?” queried Bunjira.
Buhera West legislator Oliver Mandipaka concurred with the findings of the report but however objected with Dexter Nduna’s sentiments of hanging school Headmasters.
The scheme also only allows ‘O’ Level students to register a limited number of six subjects even in a situation when students have the capacity to take more subjects, on the other hand it hinders students who passes to continue with their studies as the scheme ends at ‘O’ Level.
BEAM program is currently funded the Government and Department for International Development (DFID), the European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency have since pulled off.
Hon Nduna pulled another shocker when he proposed for schools in mining zones to be given mines to subsidize students from paying fees; however this did not go well with citizens on social media as they accused the MP of having some interest saying that he had a school in the mining areas.
Though the report was well received by Parliamentarians it lacked credibility as rural schools were left out from the research.
By Nyasha N Mukapiko