Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture’s Statement Regarding Illegal Sale of ETF Textbooks
27 March 2012
The Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture (MOESAC) wishes to announce the completion of the distribution of more than 22 million textbooks under the Education Transition Fund (ETF) programme. The ETF-supported distribution was a massive exercise carried out from late 2010 to early 2012 to ensure that all school children in Zimbabwe have access to essential reading and learning materials, making Zimbabwe the only country in Africa with an estimated ratio of pupils to textbooks of 1:1
While the procurement of textbooks was handled by UNICEF, the distribution of the textbooks was conducted jointly by MOESAC and UNICEF. Transporters were only paid once confirmation of receipt of the delivery of all books was provided by each school principal. There is therefore no possibility of books being diverted prior to delivery to the school. Upon receipt, all school authorities were instructed to ensure appropriate stamping and identification of the books as a measure to keep the books protected from sales, while steel cabinets were also provided to ensure safeguarding of the books. Once delivered to the schools, the books became the responsibility of each individual school headmaster and remain the property of the MOESAC.
MOESAC has noted recent reports (Herald article, 27 March) indicating that a small percentage of these books are being sold on Zimbabwe’s streets or in book-shops. The Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture is launching an investigation to establish the veracity of these reports and the magnitude of any problem found. Anyone found selling or facilitating the sale of ETF textbooks will be prosecuted for theft because all textbooks are Government property and are not for sale. In addition, any teacher found to be charging money for the books or hindering free access to the books by students will also be prosecuted and face severe disciplinary proceedings.
Given that we have confirmation that all registered schools have received textbooks, and that therefore any market for books will be confined to the small number of non-registered or informal schools, we do not believe that this problem is a large scale one. We are also pleased that all monitoring data confirm the widespread availability, usage, and indeed deep appreciation of the books by children. A nationally representative survey conducted around one year after the primary school textbook distribution indicated, for example, that more than 99 per cent of the schools received a full set of textbooks and were using them. However, MOESAC does not tolerate misuse of any donor funding and every case reported will be investigated thoroughly and in accordance with Zimbabwean law.
As a Ministry, we remain committed to providing all children in Zimbabwe with the required reading and learning materials and to fully revitalizing Zimbabwe’s education sector. We urge parents, guardians and the general public to assist in identifying any illegal sales of textbooks or other unethical behaviours and report such cases to the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture so that Government can enforce the relevant legal measures. The textbooks procured through ETF are in the following subjects-Maths, Environmental Science, English, Shona, Ndebele, History and Geography. All textbooks procured under ETF are marked as strictly NOT FOR SALE. It is also clearly indicated on all books that they are the property of the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
If you would like to report any possible misuse of these books, kindly write to The Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, P. O. Box CY121, Harare; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04-735633 / 734051-9.
I also encourage teachers, parents, guardians and indeed all Zimbabweans to report any vendors selling these books to the police. The police have been briefed on this situation and will respond immediately to arrest those engaged in this illegal activity.
Senator David Coltart
MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORT, ARTS AND CULTURE