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Zimbabwe Education Minister Slams Government for Underfunding Schools

Education Minister David Coltart said only $14.8 million was allocated to the schools, which was an 'indictment' of the unity government given the large sums spend on foreign travel and other major departments

Zimbabwean Education Minister David Coltart has criticized the government for spending large amounts on foreign trips for ministers and other senior officials at the expense of the education sector, which he says is still in crisis.

Coltart was speaking in Harare today at the signing ceremony for $6.5 million in funding from the European Union under the second phase of an education transition fund which supports school grants, teacher training and second-chance programs for children who have dropped out of school.

Coltart said the Harare unity government government is living beyond its means and should spend money responsibility and not rely on donors to fund education.

He said the government spent three times as much on foreign trips as on education.

Comparing the $14.8 million allocated to educate the country's three million children with far more substantial budgets for the office of president and cabinet ($70 million), prime minister ($10.6 million), defense ($66 million), home affairs ($55 million) and justice ($30 million), Coltart told s Violet Gonda the disparity is an indictment of the government.

The allocation to education is "just a woefully inadequate figure," Coltart said.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said only the Cabinet itself can put a stop to waste of funds - but bad governance has pervaded the so-called unity government.

“The Finance Minister Tendai Biti has always complained about how this big government has is living beyond its means, but it’s obviously a victim of its own creation – because it’s a coalition government," Ngwenya said. “It’s really important to focus our resources to more productive areas like education and public infrastructure”