The Zambia National Education Coalition says it is concerning that despite the overwhelming evidence on the vital role that education plays in accelerating economic growth, reducing inequality and eradicating poverty, Zambia’s investment in the education sector has remained low over the years.
As Zambia commemorates the International Day of Education that falls today the 24th of January 2020, ZANEC Executive Director George Hamusunga says it is common knowledge that funding to the education sector in Zambia has been on the decline since 2015.
Mr. Hamusunga says although the government is oblivious of the per capita cost of providing quality education in schools, there is no dispute whatsoever that the current education budget is inadequate to enable the delivery of quality education.
He said the share of the education budget has reduced from 20.2% in 2015 to the current 12.4% representing a 39% decrease.
Mr. Hamusunga said evidence from their research has shown that this low funding has resulted in most of the primary schools running without funds to procure essential education inputs.
“Worse still, the annual recruitment of teachers could not be undertaken in 2019 due to a limited education budget. Even the little funding that our parents were contributing to our schools has also been reduced by the government at a time when the Ministry of General Education is constrained with funds to support our schools”, he added.
Mr Hamusunga said this low investment in education and skills development sector has manifested itself in the poor quality of education at all levels.
“The 2018 PISA results released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development underscore the scope and magnitude of the contemporary learning crisis in Zambia. According to OECD, only 5% of 15-year-old pupils achieve the minimum level of proficiency in reading in Zambia compared to 2% in mathematics”, he said
Mr Hamusunga said the report attributes these low learning achievements, among other factors, to inadequate funding which is below the internationally recommended standard of 20% of the national budget.
He stressed that unless the government doubles its investment to the education sector immediately, the achievement of the national aspirations contained in the 7th National Development Plan and the vision 2030 of becoming a middle-income country will forever remain a pipe dream.
Mr. Hamusunga has urged the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Finance to realize that there is no successful formula to economic and social growth without factoring in the education component.
He added that there is no proven single sector that contributes more to development – not even the roads.
This day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018 to honour education and its positive impact to human beings and fostering sustainable development of the UN member countries.
The 2020 celebrations are designed to position education and learning as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and re-affirm the role of education as a fundamental human right and enabler of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
This year’s theme which is “Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace”.