AFRICAN-AMERICAN Muslim minister and human rights activist el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, commonly known as Malcolm X, once said: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
French poet, writer and activist Victor Hugo said of the same subject: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
The importance of education could never be over emphasised. In Zimbabwe, Vision 2030 of achieving an upper middle-income economy is meaningless if the leaders of tomorrow are not empowered through education.
One can never talk of the future of the country without talking about education. Malcom X was right, without education, our youth have no tomorrow.
And as Hugo put it, without education, the youth could find themselves behind bars. If we do not build schools, we might as well build more prisons.
We welcome the remarks by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke that Government will increase the number of Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) beneficiaries in light of the hardships brought about by the global Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted economies.
As we reported yesterday, Government has said it is inexcusable for pupils not to return to class as it is providing all the social security nets including payment of tuition and examination registration fees for those coming from vulnerable families so that no one is left behind.
Government this year is targeting to pay school fees for 1,5 million learners through the BEAM initiative and is in the process of strengthening it to include provision of uniforms.
Government’s policy also bars school authorities from sending away pupils whose fees have not been paid. To make education accessible to all, the amended Education Act, prevents schools from expelling pregnant girls.
“Last year we paid for 600 000 pupils through BEAM and because of Covid-19 which has disturbed most of the parents, as we go forward, we are stretching our budget to almost double. For this year, we are going to pay for almost 1,5 million kids through BEAM so we are urging all the parents and school heads to identify vulnerable kids so that we are able to pay them. There is no excuse for a child not to be in school,” said Deputy Minister Matuke.
“The budget will continue to increase as we go into the coming year, because we have been directed by the President that Government must take care of all the vulnerable kids.”
This is in line with the promise made by President Mnangagwa and his Government in the Second Republic.
President Mnangagwa has said for the country to achieve Vision 2030, no citizen should be left behind and that is why marginalised communities are also targeted for inclusion and development.
We welcome this major development of providing free education to 1,5 million children who will take this country beyond Vision 2030.
This is a welcome move by Government which should see children from low-income households being owners of tomorrow. Education is their passport to the future.