Plans are at an advanced stage for the establishment of an Education Bank to cater for the financial needs of students, teachers, lecturers at colleges and universities, prominent educationist and former Cabinet Minister Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu has said.
In an interview, Dr Ndlovu said he came up with the idea together with some investors as part of efforts to meet the goals of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
“After consulting university authorities, school heads and schools development committees, Ministries of Education, Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, I am convinced that an Education Bank will alleviate the education financial needs of our people,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He said education was a key to individual and national development as every nation was depended on the education of its people to meet its growth and development requirements.
He said Zim-Asset clusters could not succeed without investment in education as thousands of Zimbabweans did not have money for education and training.
“Government does not have enough funds for student loans and grants and for student cadetships. Schools Development Committees have no funds for infrastructure development and for teaching resources. Thousands of children from needy families are supported by BEAM. Thousands of teachers have no access to funds,” Dr Ndlovu said.
He said the bank was envisaged to be operational by June this year to cater for the August intake of students by universities, colleges and teacher training institutions.
He said investors in the bank were guaranteed of a smooth repayment of the monies by students, teachers and other educational institutions who would identify with the bank.
He said the fact that BEAM was solely depended on donor funds made it unsustainable, hence the need to pool local resources in order to alleviate problems in the education sector.
Dr Ndlovu said there was no need for educational institutions to invest their funds in a commercial bank whose interests were purely commercial instead of investing in a bank tailor-made specifically for their needs.
“There are various recommendations contained in the Nziramasanga Commission that cannot be implemented because of lack of resources. We used to have the teachers retention fund that used to cater for our teachers and the upgrading of our teaching staff but lack of resources hampered its continued existence,” he said.
Dr Ndlovu has been in the education sector for more than four decades and is the founder and managing director of the Zimbabwe Distance Correspondence Education which came into existence in 1980 in Harare and Bulawayo.
It has since spread to other centres.