HARARE – Government has scrapped the special cadetship programme at tertiary institutions because colleges and universities are currently owed $34 million by Treasury, deputy Higher Education minister Godfrey Gandawa has told the National Assembly.
He was answering to a question by MDC Bulawayo East legislator Tabitha Khumalo why government had scrapped the cadetship programme that benefitted vulnerable and poor students.
The Special cadetship scheme pays fees for disadvantaged students, who would in turn work in Zimbabwe after college for an equal number of years they received funding.
Students on the programme receive government grants or loans for their training or education.
State universities and colleges around the country have refused to register thousands of tertiary students who are on the cadetship programme before the government cleared its outstanding payments.
“Institutions of higher learning are currently owed to the tune of $34m by Treasury and institutions are no longer coping with the resources that are required for teaching and learning,” Gandawa said on Tuesday.
“They have since reduced the number of students that they are taking on cadetship using an assessment of the requirements.
“I must hasten to say that with the current economic situation, it will be difficult for us to be able to say government will be able to fund everyone.
“I should not stand up here and lie to you that the government will be able to fund everyone.
“It is impossible.
“We have to meet half way.
“Education is a public good. The government must assist and the parents must also assist so that we have our populace to be able to maintain our literacy rate and be able to develop our nation. It is the responsibility, of all of us.”
The deputy minister emphasised that government was paying full school and boarding fees for all students in public schools who register for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
He added that at a time the economy was not performing well, parents also had to meet government half way in terms of payment of tuition.
Khumalo queried why government had stopped the cadetship programme without providing an alternative, and blasted the loan scheme introduced by government.
Gandawa told the National Assembly: “If the students that are critically not able to pay pass the criteria that they are using, they will be assisted but the loan scheme is not bonding the parents.
“The loan scheme is just going to assist in terms of the tuition and accommodation fees which the guardians or parents should be able to pay back if they benefit from the banks.
“We are looking at other funding mechanisms to try and assist students that are not able to pay.
“Some parents or guardians completely cannot afford to pay but in most cases they do not have the resources at that particular moment.
“So, those will access the loans which are there in the banks and they should be able to pay back,” he said.