OUTGOING Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart has urged the new Zanu PF government to retain the Education Transition Fund (ETF), which he said was instrumental in reviving the country’s education sector.
Report by Nduduzo Tshuma
President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce a new Cabinet this week and Coltart, who was instrumental in wooing donors to the education sector, is not likely to be retained as he lost during the July 31 parliamentary elections.
Zanu PF has also ruled out any chance of incorporating Coltart’s MDC and the MDC-T in the next government.
The veteran Bulawayo-based human rights lawyer is regarded as one of the few ministers who shone in the previous Cabinet.
But he was singled out in the Zanu PF campaign manifesto for allegedly spearheading donor-driven programmes “camouflaged by the sanitised language of humanitarian and developmental assistance to cover up sinister regime-change intentions”.
Zanu PF’s election victory has heightened fears that programmes such as the ETF would be abandoned to the detriment of the education sector that was brought to its knees before it was rescued by the inclusive government in 2009.
Coltart said his successor should understand that the ETF was the only salvation for the education sector because Treasury was virtually broke.
“The first thing my successor would do is to decide whether or not ETF is illegal as they claimed,” he said.
“If they decide that it is illegal, they would not want to continue with it.
“If they decide that they were not telling the truth in their manifesto and ETF is legal, then they will continue with it.
“There was no money from Treasury to fund Education, it was the ETF that financed the sector.”
Coltart said some of the projects funded through the ETF were at pilot stage and would transform the education sector if fully implemented.
“Firstly there is the issue of curriculum review and reform, the process had already started,” he said.
“The curriculum has not been reviewed in a long time and the recommendations of the Nziramasanga Report in 1999 have not been implemented.
“There is also the School Improvement Grant programme with a funding of $62 million.
“We had a pilot scheme in Goromonzi (district). The plan was to extend the scheme to all schools.
“The purpose was infrastructural development because we realised that most schools had not been refurbished for more than a decade.
“In Goromonzi, we had identified 100 schools where we were repairing roofs, buying desks and making sure that the infrastructure is rehabilitated.”
Coltart said the programme was important because it was meant to ensure a friendly learning environment in the country’s schools.
“There are quite a number of projects that we might take hours (to talk about them), but what is important to note is that the ETF is most critical in all these projects as it is the source of the funding,” the MDC secretary for legal affairs said.
According to the Zanu PF manifesto, non-governmental organisations had, during the life of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), poured in $2,6 billion to support “nefarious activities”, which the party infers included the ETF.