Zambia’s Education Reforms, the way forward

Education is the process of formally or informally learning by which knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits of a group of people are transferred to other people, through storytelling, discussion, teaching, training or research.

Former first lady Christine Kaseba once said “I make it point to tell parents and community leaders that marrying off their children at an early age is not only a violation of the rights of the children involved but also counterproductive. It is like eating a seed instead of planting it; which is not a wise thing to do.” Education is the process of formally or informally learning by which knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits of a group of people are transferred to other people, through storytelling, discussion, teaching, training or research.
Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves in a process called autodidactic learning; hence any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.

It is a well-known fact that an ‘Education Policy’ sets the vision and strategy for educational development, mobilizing support and cooperation for implementing the vision and strategy from a wide range of constituencies.

Zambia has had several education Policies over the years to provide a vision and strategies in the education provision. Notably, the Education Policy Reforms of 1977 Focus on Learning of 1992 and the ‘Educating Our Future of 1996.’ The analysis here focuses on achievements, failed promises, policy gaps and recommendations for improving the status quo. 

Despite the Ministry of Education adopting a number of policies to guide the provision of education equitably, the system currently does not assure access by all categories of learners. For instance, there are still glaring gender disparities at the various levels of education. Although gender parity is in favour of girls from Grades 1 to 4, the index drops thereafter from Grade 5 in favour of boys.

According to the ministry of education, the high drop-out rates for girls resulting from among other factors; early pregnancies (estimated at 13,649 in 2009), early marriages and lack of safe school environments for adolescent girls. Similarly, despite the policy framework for community schools being in place, community schools which enable access to education by Orphans and Vulnerable Children are not adequately supported. The same is the case with regard to access by CSEN.  Thus, there is need for a strategy that specifically addresses cross-cutting issues of gender and OVCs, including CSEN. 

There is need to address the concerns relating to access in the Early Childhood Care, Development and Education, tertiary and adult literacy subsectors; quality and efficiency concerns in the basic school subsector; and the progression rate to high school.  In order to achieve this, the current government will need to fully implement its promises outlined its current manifesto which can go a long way in ensuring the Country’s attainment of its Education for All goals by end of this year.

Former first lady Christine Kaseba once said, “I make it a point to tell parents and community leaders that marrying off their children at an early age is not only a violation of the rights of the children involved but also counterproductive. It is like eating a seed instead of planting it; which is not a wise thing to do.”

Therefore, there is a need for the speedy review of the National Education Policy of 1996 to enable it responds to the current the education demands of the 21stcentury.

The government should also complete the process of reviewing the curriculum which supports a dual education system with a practical orientation towards survival skills and academic subjects; Implement the free and compulsory education up to grade 12 as provided for Education for All conference; Upgrade and support all registered community schools to ensure the provision of quality education; Improve access to Secondary Education through infrastructure development;  Improve gender equity and parity through the improvement of girls’ retention in education especially through the implementation of the re-entry policy; and Implement the National Qualification Framework to ensure it serves its purpose as a mechanism for regulating university education especially in enhancing quality assurance.

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