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MORE than 700,000 orphans and vulnerable children are in urgent need of various forms of support including educational help, health and child care minister, David Parirenyatwa said Wednesday.
He was speaking at a handover ceremony of $1.2 million Basic Education Assistance module (BEAM) funds to the social welfare department by the National Aids Council (NAC).
“The children’s situation has been worsened by the economic hardships the country has been facing for decades leading to many of them dropping out of school due to lack of funding for education and general upkeep,” Parirenyatwa said.
Many families have been affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic with some children losing both parents resulting in thousands of child-headed families. Some of the children have resorted to prostitution, risking their lives in the process.
Parirenyatwa said the response to the plight of the vulnerable children is part of the broader strategies against to HIV/AIDS.
He said the NAC has played a critical role in addressing the consequences and impact of the pandemic.
In recent years, many children on the BEAM programme have been turned away from school because the government has been failing to provide enough funds.
This is despite the fact that government policy prohibits state schools from sending away children for non-payment of fees.
Since 2009, NAC has injected over $4 million to BEAM to pay fees for the vulnerable and orphaned children and set aside $5 million to support community initiatives for HIV prevention.
Support for some orphans is being provided by a variety of government, community and non-governmental organisations.
However, this assistance reaches only a small percentage of those who need it as there is no transparency in the distribution processes, an issue which the government has failed to tackle for many years. source-newzimbabwe