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Zimbabwe’s children receive vital education support

HARARE, 14 September 2009 – The Government of Zimbabwe, UNICEF and the international donor community today unveiled a $70 million partnership through the Educational Transition Fund (ETF) and the revitalisation of the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) to ensure access and quality education for the country’s children.

“The programmes we launch today are momentous. BEAM will ensure that over 700 000 of Zimbabwe’s vulnerable children are in school, creating a huge demand for education,” said UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Peter Salama.  “On the other hand the ETF will boost the supply side, ensuring that every child has a text book in all of the country’s 5,300 primary schools, within 12 months.”

Recent assessments have revealed serious shortages of learning materials, textbooks and supplies in schools. One assessment showed a ratio of 10 pupils per every text book, across Zimbabwe. Another assessment showed that a staggering 20 per cent of primary schools had no textbooks at all for English, Mathematics or an African Language. The impact of the deteriorating quality in education is stark. Grade 7 examination pass rates declined from 53 per cent in 1999 to 33 per cent in 2007. In addition, statistics showed that almost 50 per cent of Zimbabwe’s children graduating from primary school were not proceeding to secondary school.

The support- one of the largest social sector initiatives in the last five years in Zimbabwe– will see school fees paid for a large number of the country’s orphaned and vulnerable children. Importantly, the funds will provide text books, stationary and improve capacity for the education sector.

Commenting on the support, Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Senator David Coltart said; "The education sector still faces numerous challenges, but the transition fund we launch today is a positive step towards the revival of the sector. Indeed it is extremely gratifying to see donors, government and the UN come together to ensure quality education for Zimbabwe's children. As a government we are grateful and encouraged."

Zimbabwe’s education sector, once a model in Africa, continues to be riddled with challenges.  Public financing of the sector declined significantly over the last decade leaving most schools with no funds to purchase, even the most basic teaching materials such as text books and stationary.

With support from the governments of Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the European Commission, the Education Transition Fund is a stop gap funding measure aimed at reinvigorating the educational system, while BEAM, a programme of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, provides a crucial safety net for vulnerable children. “Support from these donors represents a bold and visionary recommitment to Zimbabwe’s children,” said Dr Salama.”

For information and interviews, please contact:
Micaela de Sousa, Chief of Communications,
Tel + 263 212 4268,
E-mail: mmarques@unicef.org

Tsitsi Singizi, Communications Officer,
Tel + 263 91 2943 915,
E-mail: tsingizi@unicef.org





11 September 2009:
UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama talks about a far-reaching new programme to reinvigorate education in Zimbabwe.
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