HARARE – Government is not ready to roll out its ambitious free basic education policy yet due to budgetary constraints, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu has told parliament.
Zimbabwe committed to progressively provide free primary education starting this year as part of efforts to ensure education for all.
But the programme is yet to take off, a month after Zimbabwean schools opened for the 2023 first term January 9.
Responding to questions from backbenchers in the National Assembly Wednesday, Ndlovu said government was still keen on meeting its promise but was being impeded by budgetary challenges.
“At times I sit and wonder whether we can afford to pay full school fees. The truth of the matter is that we are willing and we want to pay school fees for every child in this country,” she said.
“We have a policy document, we have a Constitution, and we have an Act of Parliament in terms of the education sector that demands that we do exactly that.
“As the National Assembly, we approved the budget.
“We have sat down before the end of the year with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to analyse the budget to check on the amounts that were allocated to the Ministry in terms of funding the education sector in this country.
“After a deep analysis of the figures, it is quite clear that we can start the implementation of the programme.
“However, it should be implemented in a staggered manner because we do not have enough resources to immediately implement that policy,” she said.
The minister said a supplementary budget allocation was needed to see the fruition of a fully funded free education programme.
“We worked together with the Deputy Minister of Finance before the end of the year. We have the figures and we have got USD6.3 million and that USD6.3 million is not enough.
“It is not enough but we have to start the implementation because the Constitution says so and the Education Act says so,” said Ndlovu.