The late payment of school fees for the vulnerable students under the BEAM program has been attributed to untimely disbursements to the ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare.
Unfortunately, students under this program have faced embarrassment as they are turned away by school authorities for non-payment.
Basic Education Assistant Module (BEAM) was introduced by the government in 2001 to assist orphans and vulnerable children rural and urban areas with fees assistance.
Responding to queries raised by parliamentarians regarding the late disbursements of school fees for vulnerable children, the minister of Public Service and Social Welfare Prof Mavima said his ministry was pushing for the timely payment of fees.
“As usual, beginning of the year processes that have to be done with our budget and releases of money do not come at the time as we want.
“We are pushing for those releases to be done so that schools will not have problems with regard to whatever supplies they need for them to operate efficiently.
“We are pushing for those funds to go to the schools and as soon as that money is made available, it will go to the schools.
“I am happy that we managed to cover as much of the previous arrears as possible. It is only this term that we have to deal with.
“We are pushing for that money to go to the schools,” said Mavima.
Last November, parliamentarians raised the concern over the continues turning away of students from school over nonpayment of schools further suggesting that the act should be criminalized.
Although, the suggestion was brought forward in parliament last year, it came three years after the high court ruled that no learner should be turned away from school for delayed payment of school fees. Unfortunately, the high court ruling has been ignored.
However, Mutare Central lawmaker Hon Innocent Gonese quizzed the minister on his knowledge about the perpetual problems associated with the delayed disbursements of BEAM funds throughout the year.
Gonese further lamented the embarrassment students are subdued to due to lack of payment.
“My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is whether he is aware that these delays in payments are not just confined to the beginning of the year when the budget is yet to be released but that there are perennial problems which have been recurring time and time again.
“If the Minister is aware, is he also aware that the students concerned – apart from the adverse effect on the administration by the schools, but the students concerned are subjected to humiliation which sometimes affects the academic performance in terms of perhaps being excluded from the school?
“Even if there is intervention at a later stage but this embarrassment, this inconvenience actually affects them.
In response the minister highlighted that the 2022 third term arears had been cleared and the ministry was working to guarantee that the funds are disbursed to the relevant institutions.
About 1,8 million students are currently enrolled on BEAM.