Development of the School Financing Policy underway

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), under the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) 2016-2020 has embarked on a consultative process for the development of the School Financing Policy.  The policy, which is one of the Ministry’s key priorities, seeks to determine the level of financial support considered to be adequate in order for learners in different school contexts and at different levels of the system to meet established educational standards.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution gives every citizens and a right to a basic state-funded education, including adult basic education.  Zimbabwe is also committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goal  4 (SDG4) which calls on governments to ensure that by 2030, “all girls and boys complete free and equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective outcomes.” In the 2017 SDG Review for Zimbabwe, the government pledged to strengthen mobilisation of domestic resources including - re-prioritising expenditures, harnessing private sector, participation and infrastructure investment and strengthening the national budget policy to achieve the SDGs.   The development of the school financing policy follows the review of the policy, legal and regulatory framework under the ESSP.  Principally the policy will address transparency, accountability, allocative efficiency, equity and sustainability as it will simplify and clarify the uses of all funds at the school level and ensure that there is transparent accountability for the use of funds.  The policy will also assist in addressing issue of equity and the allocation of government resources to prioritise towards remote and disadvantaged schools to reduce the learning gap between the most and the least advantaged children.

In terms of process, the MoPSE undertook consultations on 1-9 September 2018 at the provincial, district and schools levels to determine school financing needs and priorities at different operational levels, and the minimum funding package of providing a quality basic education in different regions. Consultations were undertaken in the form of field research through surveys and a series of focus groups at the provincial level to allow for free-ranging debate and exchange of ideas. The consultative process has four key objectives, namely to determine the funding priorities for schools, the responsibility for the equitable allocation of resources to schools in different areas; determine the achievable use of financial resources made available to schools to ensure higher achievement for all learners and deduce the formulae for the allocation of financial resources that best meet the learning needs of individual learners and broader societal goals. The consultation teams constituted 11 team leaders from the Centre for Education Research, Innovation and Development (CERID) who led over 100 data collectors, reached 540 schools in the 10 provinces and over 7000 respondents.

The findings of the consultations highlighted the imperative need to address the current system of school financing in Zimbabwe.  Key concerns by respondents were inadequate school infrastructure, negatively affecting teaching and learning. The research also showed that the current financing arrangement fails to provide a quality education for the poorest due to the low levels of fees and levies that parents can afford.  The research also showed that due to the macroeconomic situation the schools are reporting significant numbers of children out of school due to the inability to pay fees, although the exact figures are not currently being documented.

The findings of the consultations gave further impetus to an online survey on the school financial policy that will be undertaken between October and November 2018. The online survey, available on the MoPSE Facebook and website seeks to widen the consultations to all stakeholders.  The outcomes, among others, expected from the survey and consultations is the provision of baseline for the development of a school financing policy in key areas such as establishing a clear framework for funding priorities, the roles and obligations of different players to ensure efficient use of find and more importantly aligning the policy to the Constitution.

A validation stakeholder workshop will be held after the online survey in November 2018.

On the basis of the feedback from the national consultation process, MoPSE is currently

discussing the following policy goals with stakeholders:

Short term goal: no cost schools for the poorest by 2020

Medium term goal: fully state-funded primary education by 2025

Overall goal: fully state funded primary and secondary education by 2030.

MoPSE is also discussing proposals on how these goals may be financed, including:

Ring-fencing for education a quarter of all revenue from the '2%' tax

A natural resource levy (ring-fencing mining royalties for education)

A government committment to allocating at least 25% of total government revenue to
basic education.

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