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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube arrives at the Parliament of Zimbabwe to present the national annual budget, a few days after the introduction of a new currency in the country, in Harare, on November 14, 2019. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

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MPs demand more funding for education

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PARLIAMENTARIANS have urged the government to increase the budget for early childhood development in the upcoming National Budget, saying the current 2% is not sufficient to provide quality education for children.

NYASHA CHINGONO

Of the 20% budget that is meant for the education sector only 2% goes to early childhood development, ECDA, ECDB, Grade 1 and 2, parliamentarians heard during the Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development Actors workshop in Harare.

Parliamentarians say early childhood development is a critical stage in a child’s life and the government should allocate enough resources.

The workshop heard that of the 2% that goes to early childhood development, the bulk is used for teacher salaries, leaving children with no resources to enhance their learning.

Bikita West MP Johnson Madhuku said legislators will push for an increase in the budget and advocate for better learning infrastructure for children.

“We can assure you that with all the knowledge that we have gathered we have enough weaponry as we engage in these processes. We are happy that we have highlighted some of the issues, the deficits that our learners experience as to the relevant infrastructure and resources, and the important issue of teachers,” Madhuku said.

He added that the high teacher to pupil ratio in schools had also affected the quality of education for early learners.

“We have a high teacher to pupil ratio and in some instances the learners do not have quality stuff.We are left with a challenge. I think it is time that we take note of some of these issues, the ECD issue and the feeding programme,” Madhuku said.

“It is very important that we put resources there because if we neglect them we would have destroyed a whole generation.”

Education Coalition of Zimbabwe programme manager, Clemence Tauya said the government should replicate the 30% budget for early childhood development according to international best practices.

He said the regional average for national budget accruing to early childhood development had failed to improve the quality of children’s education.

“It is not a matter of the amount of money going to ECD but increasing the general budget of the education sector. Elsewhere 30% of the budget goes to ECD . So you find that 2% is a little percentage. Regionally the average is 0.6% from the study and little is going to ECD. For me it is the quality of the education that goes into the education sector. You can get the 30% but it is eaten by salaries and the recurrent expenditure. So we want quality that goes towards programmes to improve the other issues of ECD and in  terms of education in general,” Tauya said.

“The MPs should advocate for an increase in the budget because they now know the challenges that have been laid bare by this study.”

In the 2021 budget,  Primary and Secondary Education received a total allocation of ZWL$ 55,221 billion, about 13.09% of total national budget, retaining the lead of the highest allocation. The last 2 years have however seen a decline in the education allocation as a share of the total budget with education receiving 11.04% of total budget share in 2018, 14.51% in 2019 and 13.39% in 2020, about a 1.19 percentage point decrease.

Of the total budget, the proportion of the education budget that goes towards salary expenses for teachers has however remained high, hitting an all-time high of 98.6 percent in 2017 and dropping to about 94%  in 2019.

The 2021 budget presents a further decline to 13.09%, which is a 0.31 percentage point decrease from the 2020 budget.

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