By Daniel Chigundu
HIGHER and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira say the decision to pay school fees for high school pupils under the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program was a fraud.
STEM was launched in 2016 by then Minister of Higher Education Professor Jonathan Moyo as a way of encouraging pupils to take up such subjects as science, technology and mathematics which were being shunned.
Currently, there are about 10 495 beneficiaries of the program and last year ZimDef paid about US$3.9 million in both school and examination fees for the pupils.
Appearing before a Parliamentary Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Minister Murwira said while his ministry will support the STEM program, but the scholarship part of it should be revised as it is a fraud.
“We support STEM, we are all about STEM but the scholarship part of it is a fraud, normally government is supposed to pay for those members of society who are not able to pay, but in this program very able people who are able to pay fees, had their children paid for.
“Meaning children of people who supposed to be the focus of government money have not been well catered for, at the same time private schools where if a parent can send their children to private school where monies in excess of $3 000 are paid per term they don’t need government support so from that basis.
“We are supporting the STEM program as a science program but the scholarship part has to be looked at very intensively,” he said.
Minister Murwira added that the ZimDef Act needs to be revised to prevent the institution from being abused by officials.
Last year then Minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Godfrey Gandawa were accused of misappropriating about US$400 000 from ZimDef.
Minister Moyo allegedly bought bicycles for his constituency Tsholotsho.