By Staff Writer
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has made yet another promise to offer free basic education next year despite a similar such promise made in 2018 not being honored.
Writing in his column in the local weekly newspaper the president said commencing next year, education will be offered free of charge targeting primary school goers.
The President said he was concerned by the number of learners dropping out of school owing to financial challenges worsened by Covid-19 and sanctions underscoring that the government was considering different models to finance the roll out of free universal primary education next year.
Technology, said the President, had become the biggest single medium of education in today’s world.
“Against the foregoing and starting next year, Government will push for a phased access to universal free education wholly funded by the State.
“We must make primary education free and universal next year, in 2023. This entails more than Government just taking over payment of school fees for all pupils in primary school.”
Government will also shoulder the full costs of transiting to a new dispensation where technology mediates learning.
“Each primary school-going child has to have access to a tablet at Government expense.
“Equally, primary schools will have to have access to electricity and electronic signals for online teaching,” he said.
However on 23 December 2018 The Sunday Mail carried a similar story in which the Mnangagwa made a promise to introduce free basic education, which never materialized over the years.
In fact by 2020 records showed that approximately 27% of school-going age children failed to attend school because they could not afford fees.
To date parents are estimated to contribute approximately 96% of the non-salary costs to education.
School education in Zimbabwe, as in most developing countries is financed through a three-way partnership consisting of the government, households with children involved in school, and development partners both multilateral and bi-lateral.