Govt criticised for spending more on defence than education

Minister David Coltart

By Alex Bell
17 September 2012

Zimbabwe’s education minister has decried his government’s decision to spend more of the national budget on defence than education, saying the country’s leaders need to change their priorities.

Minister David Coltart has previously raised concern that Zimbabwe’s defence budget is significantly higher than the money allocated for the education sector. He said this was one of the reasons why many schools have been unable to accommodate students returning for the third term.

Students from primary and secondary schools in Bulawayo were turned away last week over nonpayment of fees. Coltart told SW Radio Africa that, while he did not condone the situation, it was not surprising.

“The non salary expenditure that has been allocated to education is the second worst. This is the money we need to run and maintain schools. As of the mid year, we have only received 6% of our budget ($5 million) while defence has been allocated US$35 million,” Coltart said.

He added: “We are spending so much on defence and only a pitiful amount on education. If we don’t address these issues then the education of an entire generation will be lost.”

Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge has also raised concern that only a small percentage of the money budgeted for his sector has been released so far this year. He said only US$1 million of the required US$42 million has been availed.

Coltart said that the priorities of government must change

“We have to cut back on defence. We have to cut back on the size of government. We have to cut back on the travel and the lifestyles, the buying of Mercedes Benz cars for ministers. We have to change if we are to make education a priority,” Coltart said.

Listen to the interview: Click here

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