Government says it is committed to improving the welfare of orphans and vulnerable children in Community Schools, especially girls and children with disabilities.
Acting Ndola District Commissioner Monde Mumba said this when she officially opened a public dialogue forum for Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) in Ndola today under the theme “Eliminating barriers in education, leaving no one behind.”
Ms. Mumba said Zambia is grappling with about 800,000 out of school children, a situation she said cannot be ignored and calls for concerted efforts in order to secure and build a better future for all.
She observed that the 800,000 out of school children are not in school due to various barriers including limited space in public schools and long distances to the nearest public schools.
Ms. Mumba said this is the reason community schools need to be well supported so that they can accommodate most of the out of school children in communities.
Ms. Mumba said government has enacted a number of policies designed to support community schools in Zambia where more than 20% of Basic School learners access education.
Ms. Mumba however noted that due to information gaps on policy provisions, Community Schools have continued to be sidelined and not getting the much deserved services and support as provided for in the guidelines and policies governing Community Schools operations.
She commended ZOCS and its cooperating partners for supporting the provision of quality and inclusive education for the most marginalized children in society, most of whom found a place in community schools.
And ZOCS Research and Advocacy Manager Petronella Sibeene said the organisation aims to empower communities to be able to provide support to quality basic education to a targeted number of 172,680 children in70 districts across the 10 provinces on the principle that every child has a right to education.
Ms. Sibeene added that the three pillars on which ZOCS builds its approach are those of enhanced educational opportunities for children, increased community capacity to provide such opportunities and advocating for government commitment to the sustainability of Open Community School innovations in over 2000 Community Schools in Zambia.
Meanwhile, Ndola district Education Standards Officer Benjamin Chabusaid the district has 83 registered community schools with 22, 011learners of which 11,566 are girls and 10, 545 boys.