Government owes all State universities and colleges US$64 million in unpaid cadetship grants, a development that has compromised service delivery at most institutions, a senior official has said.
Briefing journalists in Harare Higher and Tertiary Education Acting Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said non-release of cadetship fees was a major problem affecting State institutions and was compromising the quality of education and service delivery.
“The major challenge that State universities face is the non-release of cadetship funds. In 2012, only 10 000 students benefited from the cadetship scheme while more than 40 000 failed to access these funds.
“All tertiary institutions are currently owed a total of US$64 420 220 in unpaid tuition fees that were supposed to have been paid under the cadetship scheme.
“To explain the effects of such a debt, I have to give examples.
“If an institution borrows bread and goes for some time without paying, the following year the institution is forced to approach another bread supplier due to the unpaid debt.
“After failing to again to pay the second supplier, the two suppliers will discuss the institution and blacklist it. How will it operate?”
Minister Chombo said an improvement in funding of colleges and universities will even improve the pass rate.
“Lack of funding has greatly compromised operations of universities, polytechnics and teachers colleges, especially service delivery.
“However, if institutions were fully funded, they would be in a position to improve service delivery, enrolment would be stable and the pass rate would be much higher,” he said.
Minister Chombo said the ministry had appealed to Finance Minister Tendai Biti to assist in clearing the debt.
“We have made an appeal to the Finance Minister to amortise the US$64 million debt and to give us about US$1 million monthly to improve the situation,” he said.
Minister Chombo hailed the ministry for achieving a fair pass-rate of 78 percent last year despite some economic challenges.
“The ministry has recorded success stories in the past year, 2012, in respect of Higher Education Examinations Council’s national pass rate. The December 2012 national pass rate was 78 percent.
“This pass rate was accomplished despite the untimely release of funds and serious staff shortages in the personnel manning training programmes such as Examinations and curriculum and Research,” he said.
“The ministry appreciates the efforts by parents and guardians who are struggling to pay for their children’s fees at a time Government is failing to fully bankroll the cadetship scheme.”