BEAM beneficiaries stranded as government delays 2023 selection

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By Anna Chibamu

MOST learners on Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) are reportedly stranded after government’s delay in the programmes’ selection this year.

BEAM caters for orphans and other vulnerable children between the ages of six and 19.

It emerged on Wednesday during a Q and A session in Parliament that the programme’s beneficiaries were being turned away from school or were yet to attend school as the government has not done any selection for this year.

This is despite the fact that government policy however, does not allow school authorities to dismiss students for non-fees payment.

Legislator Josiah Sithole asked Public Service minister Paul Mavima when BEAM selection of beneficiaries will be carried out.

“When are we going to see the selection of BEAM beneficiaries in our schools?  Our children are staying at home now as most schools would like to see proof of payment?”

BEAM has more than 1.8 million registered learners.

In response Mavima said “schools are not supposed to turn learners away because monies have not been remitted to the schools. That is the policy of the government. 

“As we push for those funds to be transferred to the schools, the learners should continue to learn.  BEAM was up to date up to the third term of 2022, and we are in the first term of 2023. There is no reason whatsoever for schools to turn away the BEAM registered learners.” 

He urged MPs to spread the messages to schools countrywide.

Another MP Settlement Chikwinya queried why the government had failed to pay fees on time yet the budget was approved.

“What is it that is hampering the release of the money, yet the budget has already approved of the same and we are collecting taxes?” Chikwinya asked.

The minister replied that as of the third term of 2022, BEAM fees were paid up.

“As usual, the beginning of the year processes that have to be done with our budget and releases of money do not come at the time we want. 

“We are pushing for those releases to be done so that schools will not have problems with regard to whatever supplies they need for them to operate efficiently.” 

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese told Parliament that delay in payments is not only experienced at the beginning of the year when the budget was yet to be released but was a recurring challenge.

“Students concerned are subjected to humiliation which sometimes affects the academic performance in terms of perhaps being excluded from the school,”  Gonese said.

The minister responded, “On the humiliation issue, it is not even supposed to happen because our Heads are in full knowledge of the policy of government not to turn away learners, not even just the BEAM learners but any learners for that purpose.” 

The Speaker Jacob Mudenda told the MPs that Retired Justice Maphios Cheda, the High Court Judge, ruled that no scholars should be chased away from school.