Former Primary and Secondary Education Minister, David Coltart, says the government prioritises presidential and cabinet foreign trips while routinely allocating meager budgets to the education sector.
Speaking at the Trust of Schools Zimbabwe Association meeting in Victoria Falls on Monday, Senator Coltart said for the past 25 years, the Zanu-PF government has paid lip service to the notion that education is a budgetary priority.
“In government’s own financial statements issued last November, it was shown that last year government spent some $44 million on Presidential and Cabinet travel against less than $400, 000 on educational materials.
In other words, we actually spent, on educational materials, just one percent of the actual amount spent on Presidential and Cabinet travel. That alone displays a serious warped sense of priorities,” said Coltart.
The former minister said during his last month in office less than $50,000 was transferred from treasury to run over 8,000 schools.
“I have no doubt that the situation is even worse now. The attitude towards teachers is also given in the fact that soldiers and policemen were paid their bonuses earlier than teachers. All of this demonstrates a mind-set which does not prioritise education in reality,” Coltart said.
He said the Zimbabwe education sector not only needs major policy shift that goes much deeper than simply improving teachers’ salaries but it also requires a national consensus and that the government should start to invest heavily in that area.
Senator Coltart also took a dig at the new curriculum saying he doubted very much if was going to ensure excellence in the education sector.
Coltart said he started the process of curriculum reforms as a minister but was frustrated at every turn by Zanu PF operatives.
“There was a particular concern that I would change the history syllabus to make it less partisan. My successor continued the process but of course has enjoyed the full support of senior civil servants, resulting in the new curriculum.”
Coltart was widely credited for restoring a semblance of normalcy in the education sector during the inclusive government.