Political meddling hits education pgms

Vulnerable kids left out as BEAM takes over
MUTARE Zanu (PF)s decision to bar non-governmental organisations from offering direct assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children has seen hundreds of children dropping out of school in Manicaland.

NGOs were disbursing fees under the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, but following the policy shift, the funds are now being channelled to the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) run by the governments department of social welfare.

Schools opened for the new term last Tuesday and most vulnerable and orphaned children failed to attend as there were no fees paid for them. Under the Programme of Support (POS) basket funding mechanism, NGOs were able to identify beneficiaries both in urban and rural areas.

Everything was running smoothly under the POS programme, said an official in one of the NGOs, who preferred to remain anonymous. We had mechanisms to identify needy children and funds were flowing smoothly. However following the policy shift on Beam we have experienced problems and most of the children who were benefiting have not been taken on board. There are new people involved and we do not know whats happening despite having handed over the lists of children who were being supported, he said.

Some school headmasters in Manicaland confirmed that there was concern among donors that a lot of children had been left out during the transition. The headmasters said there was need for more transparency in the selection of beneficiaries as most deserving cases were left out due to political meddling.

Zanu (PF) officials and politicians have hijacked the initiative. The children of card-carrying parents and guardians are only benefiting. War veterans and Zanu (PF) councillors have hijacked the selection of children who benefit under Beam and have said Beam as a baby of Zanu (PF), said a headmaster. The ministry of education has projected that up to one million children, both primary and secondary, may require assistance.

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