Minister of Education John Phiri says Western province ranks among the least developed provinces in the education sector.
Speaking in Sioma district yesterday when he officiated at the official handover of a Solar Power grid donated by Empowerment by Light Foundation and ZANACO, Dr Phiri said Western province has the highest number of mud moulded schools in the country.
The project worth about K1.2 million will light up the dormitories, classrooms and the school administration block at Sioma High School.
He said out of 518 grass thatched schools in the country, 149 are in Western province.
“In the education field, I can confirm that Western is at the bottom of the table. Grass thatched, pole and mud structures are everywhere,” he said.
Dr Phiri said the poor state of school infrastructure in the province has led to a huge number of pupils failing to progress to grade 10.
“While education is a right, in this part Zambia, it is a privilege,” he said.
The minister said government is however committed to addressing the challenges facing the education sector in the province that are as a result of years of neglect.
Dr Phiri said challenges facing Western province need the assistance of partners such as Empowered by Light Foundation as waiting for government to deliver services may take some time.
Dr Phiri said government will shame the secessionists in Western province by taking development to the area.
He urged the pupils at the school to improve their examination performance as they now have longer study periods.
“Do the best you can because the best you can do for these dignitaries who have travelled from far and near is for them to hear that results at Sioma have improved,” he said.
And speaking at the same occasion Western province Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba bemoaned the poor examination results at the school.
Mr Mwamba said it is unacceptable that Sioma High school is recording the worst results in the country.
He said challenges being faced at the school are not a justification for the poor results because some schools he knew with similar problems to Sioma have been performing well.
Mr Mwamba said he will take action against school management if the school posts poor results this year.
And Rob Romanowski a Consul at the Embassy of United States of America said the solar project at the school is testimony that a lot can be achieved when two countries cooperate.
Mr Romanowski said he is glad the Zambian government is partnering with Americans in addressing challenges facing communities in the country.
He said his country is always happy to invest in Zambia as it is a leader in democracy in Africa.
“Zambia is a great country for investing. Zambia has a great history of having safe transition of power three times,” he said.
Mr Romanowski said U.S.A will continue partnering with Zambia and will help one million Zambians in sanitation improvement through the Millennium Challenge.
He also disclosed that $ 14 million will be invested in Zambia through the Global Change Initiative to support conservation activities.
The event was also graced by Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo.