Educational Support In Rural Zimbabwe Education Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Cash Transfer system is currently a popular discourse in poverty reduction. Originally designed as an intervention strategy under famine and emergency conditions, cash transfer has now been applied as a broad spectrum instrument in poverty reduction including children's welfare. Inspired by Sens' Entitlement Approach, cash transfer is a demand side intervention aimed at stimulating demand for services through distributing cash to the target population. Cash transfers are a non-contributory grant such as income support, child grants, foster care grants and scholarships. Focus of this paper is limited to whether such grants are conditional or not. Conditional Cash transfers have been used to promote education in Latin America. Disbursement of cash was made on condition that school going children in the household are enrolled or attend school or both. This approach seems to alienate education from other household needs and make it unique to children. However, subduing the household factors that led to under demand for education by imposing conditions might not be the best solution in improving access to education. An understanding of how education can be promoted in the background of household demand patterns and resource allocation decisions seems credible. The focus is on the household for two reasons. First, Most children live in households and households are an important institution in providing children with primary needs. In this view, household functioning (the extent to which all it needs are met) is important in meeting children's needs. Secondly, the needs of households are generally linked and complementary to each other, in which education is one. Thus, meeting children's primary needs such as health and education through cash transfers is most likely to be sustainably achieved through a household approach. This essay reviews the literature surrounding the use of cash transfers in promoting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) education, while focusing on how rural Zimbabwe households can be instrumental in ensuring sustainable demand for education.

Children and education in Zimbabwe

The demand for education in Zimbabwe has been greatly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and deepening poverty. In 2004, Catholic Relief Services estimated that about 30% of children were orphans [1] . AIDS related Orphan population is estimated to have reached 1.1 million in 2010 [2] . A large number of orphans are living in extended families mostly in rural areas. Improving access to education for orphans and other children made vulnerable by poverty therefore requires a wider approach that also caters for loss in livelihood. The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) revived in 2010 under the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture to provide educational subsidies towards OVC has an average coverage of only 7.8% (Mushunje and Mafico. 2010). The net enrolment rate for primary school is approximates 90% according to UNICEF statistics [3] . However, attendance has been greatly affected by the deepening economic crisis. With unemployment rate well above 80%, education assistance is needed.

Cash transfer and education

Cash transfer has been used in human development through promoting access to health, nutrition and formal education especially targeting vulnerable children. Success stories in Latin America have strengthened the idea that conditional cash transfer can be employed across Africa in promoting formal education for children. Enrolment and attendance were used as indicators for success. However, enrolment alone is not sufficient in improving education. Consistence in attending school seems to be a comprehensive indicator for programme impact. Conditional cash transfer based programmes such as The Red de Protección Social Programme in Nicaragua resulted in an average increase of 18 percentage points in enrolment and 23 percentage points in attendance( against a baseline of 70% enrolment in the target population) between 2000 and 2003 [4] . The Bolsa Familia Programme in Brazil has shown a decrease in school dropout and an increase in enrolment even though the amount of the cash transfer was less than that realised from child labour (Chapman 2010). The improvements in access to education have been attributed to availability of cash for school fees and sometimes to decline in child labour through increased family income.

Several cash transfer programmes aimed at increasing the demand for education have also been carried out in Africa. Kenya's first phase of Cash Transfer Programme was launched in 2004 in 3 districts with each household receiving approximately USD 6.50 per month (Bryant 2009). Absenteeism declined by 16% during the first 9 months in Kalomo district Zambia where unconditional cash transfer was implemented (GTZ 2005) [5] . Very few studies have been documented about the use of cash transfer in promoting education in Zimbabwe. However, a correlation between an increase in income and an increase in investing education has been established in other cash transfer projects. The 2006 Zimbabwe Emergency Cash Transfer Pilot Programme aimed at improving food security in 3 districts of Zimbabwe indicated that some portion of the money distributed was used to buy educational equipment such as books (Roman 2010).

Theoretical basis of cash transfers

Cash transfer is basically based on the Entitlement Approach (OXFAM 2006). Sen (1981) used the entitlement approach to explain the famine that occurred in Bengal in 1943.According to Sen (ibid), people did not die because of lack food but 'lacked the ability [...] to command food through the legal means available in the society' , i.e., entitlement failure (ibid. :167). They may also have failed to use this ability if it was present. Sen (ibid.) described two forms of entitlement failure, "pull" and "response" failures. Pull failures represents inability to demand, for example through wage loss in unemployment. Response failures represent inability to supply to meet demand, i.e. the unavailability of food on the market. The cash transfer approach is basically a demand -side intervention aimed at mitigating the pull failures. In other words, the approach assumes that children are out of school because education is not adequately demanded due to lack of service fees. The entitlement approach consists of three related concepts; the endowment set, entitlement mapping, and the entitlement set.

The endowment set is defined as resources owned by a person (legal) both tangible and intangible for example land, knowledge/skill and labour power. It is these resources that either through exchange or production enables a person to obtain other commodities needed for survival through means that are considered legal by the society in which one is part of (Osmani 1993).

Entitlement mapping refers to the process of converting ones endowment into means possible to obtain commodities bundles of one's choice. Thus, labourers' sale their labour to obtain wages for buying commodities while farmers sells their produce to get cash for exchange with other commodities. Social security falls within this process.

Entitlement set (commodity bundle), refers to the actual commodities which people chose to have for satisfying their needs. The entitlement set also includes goods and services obtained through public provisioning such as free education.

Several advantages have been identified by pro cash transfer aid programmers in food security (e.g. OXFAM 2003). These include reduced response time, flexibility and expanded choices for beneficiaries and cost effectiveness in term of absence of procurement costs. Using conditional cash transfer in education seems to fall short of some of the above advantages, household choices are actually limited, and costs per beneficiary are likely to rise due to monitoring costs. Even when arguments point out that conditioning improves effectiveness especially when a specific group within the household such as children are targeted, effectiveness still rest on the caregivers' choice to participate or honour the conditions. The following section analyse household from the entitlement approach perspective.

Locating households within the Entitlement Approach Framework.

A 'household' basically consists of people living in the same dwelling and have common means for survival. A household might not be family but mixed family composed of members from more than one family. Cash transfers are a way of giving households capacity to demand services. Households make choices or 'map' on the services depending on their needs. The process of entitlement mapping at the household level determines whether education as a consumption good will be part of the entitlement set, unless conditions are imposed. In a situation of very limited resources under poverty conditions, needs that are considered most important are more likely to get attention first. This suggests a linear relationship among needs. Also needs that complement each other tend to be located closer to each other in the relationship. Therefore, a closer assessment of overall household demand pattern is important before an attempt to stimulate demand for education. Considering the fact that a household functioning is essential for children's welfare, a comprehensive package may be necessary to make such intervention sustainable.

Traditional microeconomic models assume that households consist of individual who are a utility maximising (Cornia and steward 1995). The household make collective decisions and income is allocated in the best way to meet the needs of the household. A household is only limited by the total budget at its disposal (Vermeulen 2002). Under the utility model, even if the cash is disbursed to a household without any specific targeting, every member of the house is assured of a fair share from the collective appropriation process. However, Individuals naturally have different preferences or at least differ in priorities. When I was growing up there were countless times when I would want money to go to a movie house only to be told that the few dollars left were for my fathers' transport to work (probably budgetary constraints), or that I would rather ask for a new pair of school shoes (priority). Samuelson (1956) made an attempt to explain the inevitability of individual preferences and suggest that at least household members argue for their own personal preferences and reach a consensus to aggregate their utilities. Becker (1974) unlike Samuelson, suggest the existence of a benevolent household head through which collective utility is achieved.

On the other hand, the bargaining model assumes a bargaining process among household members. The ultimate allocation of resources depends on the bargaining power of each individual or groups within the household (Cornia and steward 1995). In this model, children are expected to bargain for needs like school fees and other basics.

The above household models are an important step in understanding household consumption patterns. Focusing on the rural Zimbabwe in a scenario of very limited resources, it is most likely that the needs (including education) would be prioritised in a ranking order with the topmost needs receiving funds before those lower in rank. Assuming that children will have much bargaining power especially in an extended family household might be an oversimplification. Demand for education is mostly possible when it is considered a household need and the budget permit. The decline in absenteeism rates in non-conditional cash transfers in Kalomo Zambia suggests that the demand for education might not necessarily need to be induced, but increased consumption on other needs is positively correlated to consumption on education.

Targeting Children within the household

Most children exist in households, and have access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and education by virtue of being household members. Children who separate from a household might lose some basic needs such as shelter and food. Children living on the streets are a good example. Targeting children in a way that recognises this relationship is therefore important. This logically translate to the idea that a balance should be stuck among the competing needs within the household whether through utility maximising or negotiation. Targeting children presents a challenge in poverty interventions. If our view is that a household is necessary for children's survival, we are most likely to accept that realisation of children's access to education is achieved when the household is functioning well (i.e. affording most of its basic needs). On the other hand, if we hold the view that the household has failed to provide access to basic needs for children, we tend to alienate children from the household and seek solutions that are limited to children. Even if a program is designed to addresses direct costs of education, the children can only attend school if the household attains some levels of satisfaction on its other needs, for example, minimum food requirements. It is therefore important to consider the adequacy of the amount of cash transfer in interventions.

Beneficiaries in Kalomo District in Zambia indicated that the size of the cash transfers given were not enough to meet the basic household needs (Wietler 2007), neither USD 6.50 per month transfers in Kenya might be sufficient to bring reasonable change in a household's economic condition. Regularity of income is also important. The success of the Bolsa Familia programme is partly attributed to reliability of regular income even though the transfers where less than incomes form child labour (Chapman 2010).

Other obstacles in targeting children are worth to consider. During the selection of the target population there are a range of factors that might exclude/omit deserving households or children to be beneficiaries. For example, lack of identification documents or the time interval between selections of beneficiaries. The selection of beneficiaries does not take place every day for logistical reasons, while children are constantly falling vulnerable from various reasons. Excessive coverage happens when people who don't meet the criteria for inclusion benefits form an intervention. Cornea and Stewart (1995) working in the area of food subsidies argued that the probability of excessive coverage decreases when most of the people in a population meets the criteria for inclusion. Considering the number of out of school children living below the poverty threshold in rural Zimbabwe, programmers should not become much worried about target precision. Otherwise the cost of monitoring for compliance will become expensive and lead to an increase in costs per beneficiary. In a study of 15 Sub Saharan countries, Kakwani and Son (2005) discovered that the Pro-Poor Policy Index differences were not significant in conditions of perfect targeting and universal targeting, especially where levels of poverty were very high.

Access to education is not only determined by the ability to meet direct costs of education. Other factors that need to be established through a situational analysis are important before deciding whether cash transfers (conditional or non-conditional) provides the best solution or not. The perception held the household on education may play a role. For example, consumption on education may depend on whether it is considered an investment or consumption good (Kakwani et. al. 2006). The impact of education provision also depends on the quality of education. Accordingly, supply side needs attention in terms of teacher training, educational facilities and adequate equipment. Success of the Red de Protección Social Programme in Nicaragua is also attributed to bonuses received by teachers for each child who attend school and half of the amount was used to procure school material (Chapman 2006).


Cash transfers primary objective is generally to reduce poverty and vulnerability and also to increase affordability of commodities. This objective can be achieved quite easily by using non conditional varieties of cash transfers. Some literatures suggest that conditional cash transfers are the most effective in promoting children's human capital development. However, the justification of using conditions on cash transfers is open to debate and criticism. Conditional cash transfers reduce choices for households and might not necessarily reflect the pending needs people have. Even though conditional cash transfers can be introduced to boost weak demand in education, an understanding of situations leading to less than expected consumption on education is required. This entails understanding of local household economic and social functionalities. Evidence of an increase in investment in education under non-conditional cash transfer suggests that education is a household need. Therefore, promoting children's education within the household framework is most likely to be sustainable. All the same, household consumption levels on each need tend to be related, complemented, or may be partially influenced by consumption of another. Policy makers also need to consider a web of reasons why households sometimes fail to adequately demand education in rural Zimbabwe. Considerations must be taken to see if cash transfer in its various forms can be used as a primary instrument or as a complement to other more relevant strategies especially against a background of deepening educational crisis.