Govt’s $20 million BEAM debt

The government owes schools more than $20 million under the Basic Education Assistance Module.

“The budget for 2012 secondary schools was $15 million and the Treasury managed to release $5m last year. The other $5m was released in batches this year but the balance of $5m to pay third term fees is still outstanding,” said Lance Museka, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Labour and Social Services.

BEAM is a collaborative cash transfer programme between the government and donors meant to assist orphans and vulnerable children.

The Ministry of Finance claimed it was failing to pay because of financial problems.

“With the Government and National Aids Council support the target is to assist 100,000 secondary school students with school fees as well as reach over to 16,000 ‘O’ and ‘A’ level students with examination fees. The donor support extended to primary schools is expected to cover 400,000 children,” said Museka.

The other beneficiaries are pupils attending primary school. Earlier this year, Museka admitted that over half a million children were in need of BEAM assistance in the country.

“UNICEF stopped coordinating donor funds for the BEAM programme in 2011 and the United Kingdom Department of International Development has since taken over.

Payments for primary schools are up to date,” he said.

“This year alone DFID has committed $12 million for primary schools and NAC, through the AIDS levy, committed $800,000 to support secondary schools,” added Museka.

Museka said out of the $15 million budget for secondary schools $1,5 million was set aside for exam fees for both ‘O’ and ‘A’ level candidates to benefit about 16,000 students.

“We have total of 16,448 ‘O’ level candidates and 552 are writing ‘A’ level,” he said.

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