THE Zambia National Education Coalition is disappointed that the overall budget for the 2016 education sector has reduced compared to last years allocation.
Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) executive director Grace Manyonga said the sector had been allocated a total of K9,143,215,926 (17.2 per cent) of the 2016 national budget as compared to K9,415,154,444 (20.2 per cent) for 2015, representing a reduction of three per cent.
Manyonga said this was contrary to Zambia’s commitment at the Global Partnership for Education Conference where the government, through the Ministry of Education committed itself to progressively increase per capita expenditure in the education sector and the current global agreement of allocating 20 per cent of national budgets to education.
She further said the reduction in the budget should have taken into consideration the fact that the Ministry of Education had been split into two as this had operational implications for both the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Higher Education in terms of implementation of programmes.
Furthermore, the budget allocation to education has been cut while the country is experiencing unprecedented inflation. This means that the education and skills sector will not deliver on the outputs and quality indicators agreed upon and translate into practical tangible results for national development, Manyonga said.
She said while ZANEC commends the government for allocating K1 billion to infrastructure development such as schools and universities and an additional K217.8 million for recruitment and deployment of teachers, it was hoped that the allocation to infrastructure was intended to complete the construction works that commenced in the previous financial years to deflate the costs of such incomplete projects rather than beginning new projects.
Manyonga said it was ZANEC’s and other education stakeholders expectation that the Minister of Finance would have allocated more funds towards infrastructure development, teaching and learning materials to accelerate the roll out of the revised curriculum as computer laboratories had become urgent.We are seriously concerned that the allocation of K217.8 million for recruitment and deployment of teachers is not enough to sustain the recruitment and deployment of the planned 5,000 teachers taking into consideration the escalation of costs and the fact that in the 2015 budget, the exercise was allocated K6. 41billion. This will mean that the efforts to close the high pupil-teacher ratios especially in rural schools will not be attained any time soon. We have further noted that the budget speech has not taken care of adult education and literacy especially that the subsector has been lagging behind impacting negatively on children and retention in school, she said.
Manyonga said while it was pleased that the Minister of Finance had allocated K35.6 million to the School Feeding Programmes which was more by K3 million compared to 2015’s allocation of K32,033,537, ZANEC noted that the allocation would not help to scale up the programme due to inflation.
The allocation of more funds to this programme would have gone a long way to encourage and increase the number of vulnerable children staying in school especially in rural areas, she said.
Manyonga said ZANEC commended the government for allocating K311 million for the Student Loan Scheme in higher learning institutions.