Zimbabwe's Ministry of Education has launched an investigation after teachers union organizations reportedly confiscated from street vendors textbooks that were donated by the United Nations Children Fund but soon found their way onto the streets.
The textbooks for both primary and secondary schools were donated under the Education Transition Fund, set up in forging the revitalisation of the education sector.
The books that normally retail from $12 to $20 were selling on the streets for $7 to $10 dollars each.
The Ministry of Education said in a statement it had transported the textbooks to the schools with the help of UNICEF with each school receiving steel cabinets to guard against theft, maintaining any sale of text books by vendors is at a small scale and will be confined to the purchase by a small number of non-registered or informal schools
"Transporters were only paid once confirmation of receipt of the delivery of all books was provided by each school principal. There is therefore no possibility of books being diverted prior to delivery to the school," said the statement signed by Minister David Coltart, "upon receipt, all school authorities were instructed to ensure appropriate stamping and identification of the books as a measure to keep the books protected from sales."
The ministry along with UNICEF in the first phase of the ETF distributed more than 22 million textbooks to all primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe, including English, Mathematics, Shona, Ndebele, and Geography books, shifting the pupil textbook ratio from a crippling 10:1 to 1:1.
Secretary general Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union says there is a loophole in the system allowing vendors to access the textbooks. He told reporter Tatenda Gumbo it’s a shame school children are again missing out on a proper education.
"We are now getting reports that certain schools never received certain books, there are others that have been lost through the school structure, there are some that have been stolen, there are others coming from uncertified sources, but in all it is corruption," said Majongwe
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, through its Department of International Development, today allocated nearly $38 million to the second phase of the Education Transition Fund.
The funds will go towards accelerating the revitalization of the education sector and giving a second learning chance to school drop-outs, especially girls who have failed to proceed to secondary school.