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Britain Disputes Reports of Zimbabwe Education Program Pull-out

  • Tatenda Gumbo

The United Kingdom's Department for International Development, DFID, has pledged its continued support for Zimbabwe's Basic Education Assistance Module, BEAM, dispelling reports that along with the United Nations Children Fund, it would soon stop assisting poor schools and students in the country.

DFID maintained in a statement Friday its support of the education program, targeting 400,000 under-privileged and orphaned school children.

At least $15 million has been allocated to the initiative so far this year, most of it covering the first and second school terms. The British government says disbursements for the third term are to commence shortly.

The department said a company called Crown Agents is managing its current funding to the education program, which includes monitoring the delivery of funds directly to the bank accounts of primary schools.

It added that it is providing more than $36 million to the second phase to "support the ministry of education, sport, arts and culture’s efforts to bring quality education to all children in Zimbabwe, with a special focus on orphans and vulnerable children."

Reports of the British department pulling out were triggered by comments attributed to the ministers of education and labor voicing concern over the program's future.

DFID program coordinator Peter Taylor says the UK is committed to the BEAM program and assisting the government of Zimbabwe provide education to all.

"Everyone will appreciate how important it is for children to get a good education, to improve their life chance and their livelihoods," he said.

The basic education program is a government and donor-funded initiative targeting vulnerable primary and secondary school children. Negotiations are currently underway for the funding of the 2013 school year.