Former Education minister David Coltart says the government’s announcement that it will introduce free education beginning this term is not practical.

Coltart, who is the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim treasurer, said the government failed to allocate adequate funds in the budget to support free education.

“They can only roll out free education if they have a budget to support it. An analysis of the budget shows that it is a ridiculous budget and we have seen that education in real terms is relegated and made subordinate to the Office of the President and Cabinet, and the budget for rural areas.

“Unless the budget allocates sufficient money for school fees to be supported, there can be no genuine rollout of free education.

“We know from past years that the actual money allocated to education is generally way below, so there is no indication that anything will change,” he told Newsday in an interview.

Speaking to the same publication, economic commentator Gift Mugano said the government cannot roll out free education when it cannot pay teachers decent salaries.

“The first question would be, is it really in motion? Where I am coming from, is that already the teachers are not being paid decent salaries and parents are taking the burden to sustaining the teachers.

“Salaries are not going up, we cannot talk of free education when we cannot pay teachers well,” he said.

The Finance minister has said they will pay for three teachers’ children, not to talk of the whole country.

Last month, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube told Parliament that the free education programme will need more time to implement.

In his vote for the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, Ncube allocated $631.3 billion (US$976 million) towards providing quality infant, junior and secondary education.

However, the bulk of the allocation will go toward teachers’ salaries and other learning costs.