Govt abandons A’ level scholarship programme after funds abuse

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By Anna Chibamu

HIGHER and Tertiary Education Minister Amon Murwira says government has no plans to stop its controversial Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme but has, instead, cut A’ Level scholarships which he said were being abused by some corrupt authorities.

He was responding to questions by MPs during parliament’s question and answer session this past week.

Under STEM, A’ Level students pursuing the subjects were afforded sponsorship by the government.

The programme was introduced by exiled former Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo to benefit children from less privileged backgrounds but was erroneously extended to scholars from private schools whose parents could afford the huge amounts.

Asked by Kwekwe Central MP Masango Matambanadzo on what the fate of the programme was, Murwira said government was still keen to see subjects studied under STEM continue.

“These subjects are not going to be dropped. They were never dropped and they will not be dropped in future.

“…Scholarships that were being offered to ‘A’ Level students were discontinued in term 3 in 2018.

“…The money was being misused; it was used to pay private institutions and because of that issue, we are saying that we continuously urge the studying of science, technology, engineering and mathematics using other means but not through giving scholarships to ‘A’ Level students.”

Murwira continued, “The issue of STEM is an ongoing issue but ‘A’ level scholarships are not for students doing ‘A’ level, we are in Higher and Tertiary Education and we do not have scholarship for A level students, so we stick to our mandate of tertiary institutions without misusing money or losing money.”

The Minister said this was through a forensic audit performed by his ministry which discovered the rot.

He declined to name the funds abusers, some of whose cases he said were now before the courts.

Moyo and former deputy permanent secretary Godfrey Gandawa have been accused of abusing STEM with over $400 000 said to have been misappropriated during the two’s tenure.