Government owes Bulawayo City Council schools close to $100 000 in unpaid Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) fees and levies for last term, a council report released this week has shown.
According to the report, the debt had crippled operations at the local authority’s 29 primary schools.
The matter took centre stage at a full council meeting on Wednesday where it was noted that the outstanding funds were meant to cover education fees for 36 556 pupils.
Beam is a government-initiated social protection service in terms of the Social Welfare Assistance Act of 1988, which seeks to improve living standards of orphans and vulnerable children through provision of basic education assistance.
Beneficiaries are identified through a means-tested method that also covers their guardians.
Initially, the programme targeted underprivileged primary school pupils before it was extended to those at secondary schools as well.
The council report showed government only paid $21 253 and $17 318 in tuition and levies respectively leaving a balance of $52 153 (tuition) and $47 838 (levies) for the first school term.
The report also noted that parents owed a combined $399 096 in tuition fees and $345 834 in unpaid levies.
The report cited Mgikika Primary School in Nketa 9 as the worst affected.
The school has an enrolment of 1 292 pupils.