AFRODAD, in collaboration with the Education Coalition in Zimbabwe (ECOZI) submitted a proposal to the Parliament of Zimbabwe portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education on the best alternative options on financing for the education sector.
The Induction workshop was held at Kadoma Hotel from the 26th to 28th January 2019. Various staff and shareholders of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) including Teachers Unions, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and social entrepreneurs attended. This came at the backdrop of the continued decrease of the national budget allocations to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to achieve productive outcomes on education in Zimbabwe paired with the drop of total aid coming into the sector.
According to MOPSE/World Bank, Education’s share of total aid in Zimbabwe has decreased for six years in a row, from 10% in 2009 to 6.9% in 2015. In contrast, the budget allocated to the MoPSE increased from US$177 million in 2009 to US$890 million in 2015. In 2016 allocation was US$810.43 million and in 2019 government allocated $ 1 162 681 000 (11% of National Budget). This year the budget allocation towards MoPSE remains below 20% of the national budget.
Honourable Jacob Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly who gave the keynote address at the of the workshop, showed concern over financial challenges the education sector continues to experience. He challenged the committee to suggest solutions that can enable the executive to implement free basic education for all, a right he said is enshrined in the national constitution. He also called upon Civil Society Organisations to not only quiz government over issues of concern but to offer solutions to the challenges affecting the Education sector.
In a presentation by ECOZI that included concerns raised by AFRODAD and other partners, Acting ECOZI’s Executive Director, Mr Liberty Matsive noted that declines in aid flows and financing were affecting the education sector not only in Zimbabwe but also in the rest of Africa. He offered various solutions urging developing countries to adopt innovative ways for sustainable funding of the education sector such as Tax administration reforms, engaging the Private sector, Harnessing Remittances and Development of a National Education Fund.
Alternative options for raising additional revenue for the sector
Tax Reform: According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, improving tax systems in developing countries could more than double the average spending per primary school age child. In a statement, Matsive said that there was need to end harmful tax incentives; challenge aggressive tax avoidance and raise earmarked taxes in education to allow the sector to raise enough much needed revenue for education.
Private Sector: Since 2009, Zimbabwe has had in place a legal and institutional framework for public-private partnerships (PPPs). However, the involvement of the corporate sector in primary and secondary education financing remains limited. Matsive noted that there was potential for private companies to invest in education for brand differentiation hence PPPs need to be encouraged further by Government policy. However, there are limitations and reservations on this as it may promote privatisation which violates rights to access of education
Harnessing Remittances: Funding schooling is one of the major uses of remittances. They are more significant than both Official Development Aid (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). According to the World Bank, In 2014, US$435 billion in remittances went to developing countries.
Zimbabwe National Education Fund: Establishment of a Zimbabwe National Education Fund that can be financed through three core components: (i) tax on school private income; (ii) adding additional 2.5% on VAT on imported goods and a government contribution, funded through savings on the teachers’ wage bill and mining royalties, all ideal to raise enough finance for the sector. Under this proposition, Matsive revealed that 25% of all private schools income goes directly to a centralised fund into which the government puts an equivalent amount of public funds, along with the ring-fenced levy on VAT. The Fund is then redistributed to schools on an equitable basis per child.
Speaking about the workshop, Policy and Research Consultant - International Public Finance at AFRODAD, Mr. Chikowore went on to share that options for financing for education were important in improving the budgetary allocation and MoPSE financing for additional school infrastructure and learner education material which in return guarantees quality and improved education standards.
Mr Chikowore however emphasized that, caution needed to be taken in reforms especially on taxation as Zimbabweans parents and other ordinary citizens already feel that they pay high out of pocket for their children’s education thus they are already overtaxed by the government.
As AFRODAD we call for the government to improve tax administration and regulatory instruments to curb corruption and IFF’s in all productive sectors of the economy starting with mining where a majority of these are happening. Already the government is working on a Money Laundering Bill and Proceeds of Crime Amendment which we believe is a commendable move to avert these two forms of IFF’s.
AFRODAD is also urging the MoPSE to exercise extreme caution in the engagement of PPPs and Joint Venture Partnerships as their activities in social services tend to lead to privatisation which triggers high user fees for education and limits access to the service when CSOs are actually advocating for having it free.
Chikowore exhorted the Ministry to ascertain the model of infrastructure that are sustainable i.e. PPPs and Joint Venture Partnerships tend to bear a lot of risk on the government which sometimes has to pay loans for infrastructure development at market rates hence increasing the debt burden on Zimbabwe.
For Zimbabwe to honour the pledge of basic and adequate education for all, there is need to increase public funding for education, prioritizing those most in need, and continue increasing the efficiency and accountability of its budget allocations.