The government has announced that parents and guardians including headmasters who allow learners to drop out of school due to financial constraints will be liable to prosecution as doing so is in violation of a standing policy.
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said measures have been put in place to cater for learners from underprivileged families.
Mavima told Chronicle in an interview on Monday 26 September 2022:
As Government we have so many interventions that we put in place to address the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children. BEAM is one of those and I should make it clear that any parent, guardian or even headmaster who allows any learner to drop out of school is liable to prosecution.
This year we have a target of 1,5 million beneficiaries and we haven’t even reached that target for any learner to drop out of school. Headmasters have been trained on BEAM and are ready to attend to anyone in need of that facility because we want all our children to access education.
Those parents or guardians who find themselves in a financial dilemma should approach any of our schools and they will be assisted. I do not want to hear about any child not going to school this year or any other year since we are also introducing State-funded education effective 2023.
According to the Education Statistics Report, there are 120 714 orphans and vulnerable children at the ECD level who benefitted from BEAM in 2021.
It also notes that there are 608 419 orphaned and vulnerable children in primary schools.
At the secondary school level, there are 289 847 orphaned and vulnerable children.
Thousands of learners have been dropping out of school citing failure to raise fees, a trend that increased during the COVID-19 era when some guardians lost their sources of income.