Coltart told guests at the signing ceremony of a US$6,5 million Education Transition Fund phase 2 with the European Union that for three years, the coalition government had adopted skewed priorities by spending money on foreign travels and other activities instead of resuscitating the country’s ailing education sector.
Coltart said the government’s priorities were shameful since they were not complementing efforts by donor partners who have breathed life into the education sector by providing about 20 million textbooks to primary and secondary schools in the first phase of the fund in 2009.
The EU has been on a drive to return Zimbabwe’s education system to its former glory by pumping funds to train at least 100 000 teachers, key ministry personnel and 8 000 school heads.
Coltart revealed that the government was spending only US$5 per child a year on education, and instead of his ministry being allocated about US$60 million it hoped to receive in the national budget, it only received US$14,5 million.
This is a pittance compared to the US$20,6 million spent by President Robert Mugabe on foreign travel last year.
About US$54 million is needed to revive the once admirable education system and Coltart applauded the EU for taking steps in helping to tackle the crisis.
Although the education sector had registered positive growth due to sustained investments mostly from Western countries, the sector remained fragile as evidenced by dilapidated infrastructure at the country’s schools.
“Education remains in a state of crisis. One only has to go to see the infrastructure at the schools and the just ended strike by teachers also revealed that the situation is still fragile,” said Coltart.
Political commentator Blessing Vava said: “We welcome the move by the EU given that our own politicians focus on self-aggrandisement and our own government is extravagant as shown by the luxury vehicles they bought themselves at the expense of improving service delivery, health, education and other government priorities.”