THE government of Zambia has signed a K277 million memorandum of understanding with the UK government to enhance the education sector.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda says the funding is intended to support programmes prioritised in the re-aligned Sixth National Development Plan.
Mr Chikwanda said in Lusaka yesterday during the signing ceremony that the funding will assist the Zambian government to deliver quality education.
He said Government is committed to reducing poverty and that to achieve this, it has prioritised the education sector.
“We have a compelling need and moral imperative to ensure concerted and sustainable efforts to reduce poverty in the country,” Mr Chikwanda said.
Mr Chikwanda said the education sector is key to achieving development as it enables people to engage in productive activities.
He said Government has improved the enrolment rate, completion rate, pupil-to-teacher ratio, lecturer-to-student ratio and gender parity index to enhance the quality of education.
Mr Chikwanda said quality education can be achieved through prudent, efficient and effective use of finances.
“The support of cooperating partners will contribute towards the attainment of millennium development goal number two on achieving universal primary education and millennium development goal number three on promoting gender equality and empowering women by 2015,” Mr Chikwanda said.
And speaking at the same function, UK Ambassador to Zambia James Thornton said the British government is committed to improving the international economic system to benefit both developed and less developed countries.
Mr Thornton said his government has committed to increase its support to Zambia this year to K560 million (approximately 27 percent).
He said the UK is helping Zambia to tackle poverty through key social services, including education, health, nutrition, sanitation and social cash transfers.
“Our general approach is to work with the grain of what the government of Zambia is trying to. That is the way in which we think we can be most effective,” he said.
Mr Thornton said his government will also ensure that Government operates effectively and that to do this, it has installed a system that will track the use of Government funds.
He said assistance is also being given to boost wealth creation and that the UK government is doing this by helping small-scale farmers and creating an enabling environment for the private sector to grow.
Meanwhile, Head of the Department for International Development (DFID) Kevin Quinlan commended Government for its commitment to improving the education sector.
Mr Quinlan said overall enrolment in schools for both girls and boys has increased with 1.7 million children in school.
He said DFID is committed to improving the provision of quality education in Zambia.
“I would like to congratulate Government for the frank discussion on how to improve the quality of education and the clear commitment to tackle these challenges in the sector, to ensure ordinary Zambians can benefit from the country’s economic growth,” Mr Quinlan said.