First Lady Esther Lungu said there is need to invest more in the training of teachers that provide early childhood education.
Mrs Lungu said training early childhood education teachers, is critical to laying a strong foundation for the country’s education sector and attainment of the 7th National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.
She urged government to scale up the training of teachers for Early Childhood Education to ensure that children are handled by qualified teachers.
First Lady was speaking when she launched the Early Childhood Education Centre at Chalimbana University in Chongwe District.
Mrs Lungu who was accompanied by her Senior Private Secretary Florence Chawilwa, was received by Chongwe Mayor Geoffrey Chumbwe, General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba, and senior government and Chalimbana University officials.
The First Lady praised government for implementing early childhood education in all public schools countrywide, as this will enable more children access pre-school and enhance child development.
The Early Childhood Education Centre is a demonstration school consisting of a learning centre and pre-school for trainee teachers to practice from and have hands-on experience.
Mrs Lungu also praised the University for its Corporate Social Responsibility, recognising the 20 free places reserved at the pre-school for children, from surrounding villages.
She urged other partners to emulate the Flemish Office for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance who supported the establishment of the centre.
And Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba praised Chalimbana University for innovating and pioneering early childhood education in the country.
He however warned that teachers who report late for work and fail to provide and convey correct information to pupils, should not claim to be educated because education does not promote indiscipline.
The Permanent Secretary said government will prioritise the recruitment of Early Childhood Education teachers in the next recruitment in order to enhance provision of education to children at an early age.
Dr Kalumba said once government will abolish the grade one enrolment system and instead promote children from early childhood education.
He challenged Chalimbana University management to intensify in service training programmes in order to enhance the capacity of early childhood education teachers.
Meanwhile University of Zambia Vice Chancellor Luke Mumba whose institution superintend Chalimbana University praised government for recognising and investing in early childhood education.
Professor Mumba said the university developed a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education programme in order to improve the quality of early childhood education teachers with relevant skills and knowledge.
He said the launch of the centre of excellence will change the face of early childhood education in Zambia.
The University of Zambia Vice Chancellor disclosed that Chalimbana University will also offer 20 free slots for early childhood education at the centre of excellence for children from surrounding villages.
Professor Mumba said government’s shift and recognition of early childhood education will strengthen the development of children and their subsequent contribution to the country’s development.
He said Chalimbana University has grown into an institution providing tailor-made programmes to over 9,900 students enrolled in its 7 schools compared to 2 schools ten years ago.
And Country Manager for the Flemish Office for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) Nico Vromat said there is need for Zambia to have more early childhood education centres of excellence and requisite teachers.
He said his organisation remains committed to supporting the establishment early childhood education centres in the country.
Dr Vromat said trainee teachers will be accorded practical learning and teaching experience in offering early childhood education in the country.
Earlier, Chalimbana University Vice Chancellor Wanga Chakanika appealed to the First Lady to help the institution develop and expand in order to develop the country through provision of relevant and quality educational programmes needed to develop the country.
And the First Lady Esther Lungu commended Dr Chakanika for ensuring that government’s vision of increasing access to university education is being realised.