BULAWAYO and the two Matabeleland provinces have been allocated the least amount of funds among the country’s 10 provinces, whose Ordinary and Advanced Level students had their examination fees paid through the government-administered Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) in 2015.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Tapiwa Matangaidze disclosed the anomaly in a report he presented in Parliament last week.
According to the report, government disbursed a total amount of $987 227 for a total of 10 926 vulnerable students, who sat for their national examinations in 2015.
Of those who benefited, Matabeleland South had 540 students, Matabeleland North 487, with Bulawayo having the least number of beneficiaries at 222.
This is in sharp contrast to the seven provinces in which the least, Harare province, had 851 students benefiting, while Midlands and Masvingo were joint highest with identical numbers of 1 632 students benefiting.
Other beneficiaries per province saw Manicaland having 1 440 students, Mashonaland Central 1 190, Mashonaland East (1 572) and Mashonaland West having 1 357.
Matangaidze told Parliament the 2015 allocations were being carried over from the 2014 database of beneficiaries.
Efforts to seek clarification from Matangaidze were fruitless as he was not reachable on his two mobile phones.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira said she was not privy to what her deputy presented in Parliament last week, but denied any discrimination against the three provinces, which have repeatedly alleged marginalisation under President Robert Mugabe’s administration.
“I don’t have the statistics in front of me right now. I am not aware of the (parliamentary) discussions, but what I can say is that all the provinces are supposed to give their own indications and analysis under Beam,” she said.
“They compile the information and give it to head office … financial analysis is done by the provinces. There is no discrimination. Provinces compile the information and give us to implement.”
Beam is a programme that provides school fees, examination fees, levies and building assistance. It was introduced by the government in 2000. It targets vulnerable children, who are unable to pay school fees or those who fail to go to school as a result of non-availability of money.
Matabeleland provinces have often cried foul over being sidelined in national developmental programmes under the Zanu PF-led government.
The provinces have tended to reject the ruling party in the country’s national polls, while advocating for the adoption of devolution in the country so they could manage their own developmental affairs.