Government has not paid fees for all three school terms this year for children catered for under Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) thereby creating a serious financial crisis that has crippled the day to day running of schools, The Mirror has been told.
Government also owes schools for one term in 2022 and 2021 each, sources have said.
Schools in disadvantaged areas are as a result doing without basic requirements like chalks, exercise books and teachers and school heads cannot attend crucial meetings outside the school where transport is required, said sources. In many cases teachers have to use money from their meager salaries, said sources.
Government introduced BEAM in 2001 to provide school fees, examination fees, levies and building assistance for pupils whose parents and guardians cannot afford.
The situation got worse this year when BEAM appeared politicized with more children being brought under the assistance programme ahead of the harmonized elections leaving schools with a few children who paid on their own.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro however, told The Mirror that the Minister was aware of the problem and he is currently talking to the Ministry of Finance and Public Service. He said it was not true that Government has not paid for five terms.
“The Minister is aware of the problems and he is currently engaging with the Minister of Finance and the Minister Public Service. Every school receives its payment. No school has gone for five terms without fees payment. The Minister is looking at the problem,” said Ndoro.
Schools are allocated a number of children that they can put on the BEAM programme and the most deserving ones are chosen. Schools that spoke to The Mirror said the numbers can be up to 30% while this year because of elections the figures rose to almost 100% in some schools.
The other problem is that BEAM is paid in RTGS.