MORE than one million children across the country have applied to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to be considered under the Basic Educational Assistance Module.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $25 million for Beam for this year’s budget.

In an interview, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Dr Sekai Nzenza said the Government however, only approved applications for 400 000 children.

“The number of eligible beneficiaries is continuing to rise because 1 045 480 vulnerable children are in need of educational assistance.

Currently the programme is catering for 415 900 beneficiaries,” she said.

She said the Government has since the beginning of the year disbursed about $8 million towards Beam.

“The treasury has allocated to the Beam programme $25 million for the year 2019, $8 million was disbursed in the first quarter of 2019 to cater for the first term levies, tuition and examination fees of the beneficiaries,” she said.

Dr Nzenza said her ministry has managed to also reduce arrears for previous Beam commitments.

“The ministry has managed to reduce the arrears of Beam owed to schools for the year 2014, 2015 and 2016. It has also managed to achieve the primary objective of the programme which is to ensure access to education for vulnerable children.”

Meanwhile, the Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Olicah Kaira said more than 11 000 children applied for Beam last year and 7 000 children were selected to benefit from the programme in Bulawayo.

“In Bulawayo Metropolitan province last year we had a request from 11 008 pupils who required Beam assistance, it’s quite a huge number.

We have so many learners from indulgent families who require assistance. Eventually we selected 7 010 because our selection is heavily dependent on the budget given to us by the Government. 3 409 were males and 3 601 were females,” she said.

She said Beam selection was done by the District schools inspectors through proper communication channels.

She expressed appreciation to the Government for paying school fees for vulnerable pupils.Sundaynews