Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou says Zimbabwe cannot provide free basic education because it lacks responsible leaders and there is too much corruption.
Section 27 of the constitution compels the state to take all practical measures to ensure free and compulsory basic education.
The same constitution also says every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to basic state-funded education.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law the Education Amendment Act which also speaks of the same rights.
However, the situation on the ground is contrary to what is provided for by the country’s supreme law.
For example, the 2021 national budget only provided about ZW$55 221 000 000 to the ministry of education. It did not provide funds for free education.
The same budget also revealed that it was not funding free basic education when it allocated about ZW$2 billion to the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM).
Lack of leadership
In an interview, on Tuesday-Talk, Zhou said the ability to provide feed education is there but there is no leadership.
“We can do that (free education) if we are responsible leaders or if we have responsible leaders. The challenge is that most of our leaders are not responsible and so we will not be able to do that in Zimbabwe.
“If we run our government in a corporate way efficiently, truthfully transparently and with equity we could do that. The sad part of it is that resources are finding their way in private pockets instead of getting into government coffers.
“So as long as we don’t fight corruption it will be very difficult to have free basic education. But in terms of responsibility, its the government’s responsibility to provide free basic education because education is a human right.
“It’s not a privilege. Those who in power must come up with methods to ensure that becomes a reality because its part of even the constitution. We must ensure that it becomes a reality and focus on minimising corruption,” he said.
Zimbabwe spending less per student
The PTUZ boss said Zimbabwe was spending less money per student as compared to other countries.
”We are spending less than US$1 per student when other countries are spending more than $20 per student.
“Education has a set budget, the budget for primary and secondary education must be above 22% of the total budget.
“Even if you don’t have the money you must allocate that budget because that is an agreement by African countries. Just as the agricultural budget in terms of the Maputo Agreement must be above 10% of the budget.
“Just as in terms of the Abuja Agreement the health budget must be above 15% of the total budget. So those are set benchmarks that were agreed by African countries that Zimbabwe is even failing to follow,” he said.
Free education is possible but we lack leadership