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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Education of Zambian Children

Free Education for Zambian children is imperative

Columns Education of Zambian Children

Dr Charles Ngoma

‘EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION!’ said Anthony Blair in a speech that catapulted him to the premiership of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Education has stood out as one if not the most important thing in the history of mankind that has made a big difference in the quality of our lives. Many of us may not be aware that the ideal of universal education is less than 200 years old. For thousands of years the education of children was never systemic but haphazard. Apprenticeships were the only means to acquire knowledge for the great majority of children and ignorance and illiteracy prevailed in communities. Credit goes to Religious institutions, whether Christian, Islamic, Judaist or others for extending the enrolment of children into formal schools. In Africa, many of us are grateful to the Christian missionaries who came and set up schools in every corner of the continent and reached as many children as possible to give them a basic education. 50 years into colonialism, the educated Africans were ready to challenge colonialism and take the reigns of statecraft through nationalism. This would never have been possible without education, because calamus gladio fortior (the pen is mightier than the sword).

After independence, many African governments decided to offer education free to all children regardless of age, gender or tribe. For the first decades hundreds of thousands of children were educated free from cradle to grave. Many of the beneficiaries of that education are now holding the reigns of power. The baton was passed from the freedom fighters to the new generation. We all know that education is not a luxury, it is a HUMAN RIGHT. In this 21st century there should not be a single child who is of school going age who should not be in school and no one should attain adulthood without a basic education. Children drop out of school for lack of school fees when they lose their biological parents. The guardians who foster them cannot be bothered to pay for school. It is shameful that so many children in Africa are supported through school by western families. Where are the governments?

Is it impossible for us in Zambia today to provide free education for every child from grade 1 to grade 12? We can afford idle fire tenders for $42 million. We can afford a $100 million presidential jet. We can afford fantastical superstructures that are for show around the country. We have borrowed more than $10 billion (I am being generously conservative here) in less than 10 years, while in 27 years of free education we only borrowed $4 billion. Let us not be emotionally partisan here and start throwing insults at each other but with cool heads, let us ask ourselves these questions. Are we really so broke that we have to force every parent to fork out something in order to give their child an education which under our constitution is supposed to be a human right?

We have state-run schools that charge ‘nominal school fees’ which according to some who can claim that K2 million is nothing, these should be affordable but are they? Even if they are, what is the quality of education? Why are so many electing to send their children to private and community schools? The law permits the minister of Education to grant financial support to ‘vulnerable’ children. Who is a vulnerable child where there are no specific criteria for means testing? These are not even so well publicised for people to take advantage of.

12 COMMENTS

  1. That is what we have been asking the PF zealots who keep sontaring at buildings yet life of the people and the economy is in freefall……

    What is so hard in building infrastructure with borrowed money when you are even failing to pay back that borrowed money ????

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  2. Oh ngoma eff off. We are tired of idlots like you who are never pleased. When we spend money on infrastructure and other development areas you criticize and say we spend carelessly. Yet here you are asking us to spend ridiculous amounts on free education till secondary. The education system is highly subsidized as it is. Do not bring your f00lish political motives into important matters like this. Now crawl back into your cave. We have a lot to do than waste time on idlots

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  3. I am not sure whether this is the real Kaizar Zulu who was Presidents Sata’s and Lungu’s aid at State House. If it is, I am deeply sorry that first of all he can be so abusive and secondly, so ignorant of the Patriotic Front manifesto which was first published under the venerable Michael Sata in 2011. The manifesto clearly pledged: To ‘re-introduce free and compulsory primary education for all (that is from grade one to grade seven).’
    AND to ‘Make it an offence for a parent who deliberately fails to send a child of school-going age to school.’
    So, I can only assume that this Kaizar Zulu is fake. May the real one stand up! The issue we should be asking is why hasn’t this happened nearly 10 years later?

  4. Just declare FREE education, because even the private schools who steal money from the children abakuma yard, they never get rich.
    I don’t like private schools and the useless Private Universities awarding anything title of doctor.

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  5. I am not sure whether this is the real Kaizar Zulu who was Presidents Sata’s and Lungu’s aide at State House. If it is, I am deeply sorry that first of all he can be so ab_usive and secondly, so ignorant of the Patriotic Front manifesto which was first published under the venerable Michael Sata in 2011. The manifesto clearly pledged: To ‘re-introduce free and compulsory primary education for all (that is from grade one to grade seven).’
    AND to ‘Make it an offence for a parent who deliberately fails to send a child of school-going age to school.’
    So, I can only assume that this Kaizar Zulu is fake.
    May the real one stand up! The issue we should be asking is why hasn’t this happened nearly 10 years later?

  6. I do not know why, but I have replied to Mr Kaizar Zulu’s comment. LT’s moderation has removed it, but it is not offensive at all. I am wondering why.
    In any case, I should like to refer the Kaizar, to the Patriotic Front manifesto of 2011. Please sir, read what the manifesto said on education.

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  7. This is a conversation that we should be having regularly as a nation: how to educate our future. Instead we’re preoccupied with a lot of trivialities. It’s an educated citizenry that will take Zambia forward. Even the few number of comments is a matter of concern. Haven’t people been provoked by this article?

  8. The PF Manifesto (2011).
    • Re-introduce free and compulsory primary education for all (that is from grade one to grade seven).
    • Make it an offence for a parent who deliberately fails to send a child of school-going age to school.
    • Conduct a comprehensive revision exercise to align curricula with the needs of the labour market and to develop life long skills in students.
    • Phase out the current bursary scheme and in its place develop guaranteed student loans for all Zambian students admitted into tertiary institutions and recover the loans through a tracking system.
    • Provide for direct and adequate funding of public universities from the national treasury (i.e., to provide improved conditions of service for all workers and expanded student accommodation).

  9. Dr Ngoma, I don’t think there’s any serious thinking and reading in the PF government about the difficult issue of nation-building in post-colonial states. People merely cite increasing marriage across tribe as enough to build a nation. I can’t blame them. Scotland has been in a union with England since 1707 and there hv been many English-Scottish marriages. Moslems and Hindus lived together under British rule for over 400 yrs. Yet whn Britain granted independence to the colony of India, the country was violently partitioned btwn India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. The 2 Pakistans were predominantly Islamic while wht remained of India was predominantly Hindu. In 1971 the two Pakistans despite being Islamic fought a war and this led to today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh.

  10. The point I am trying to make here is hw should our learners be taught so that they grow up knowing that Zambia is a post-colonial state and each one of us has a duty to ensure that everyone feels that their identity and future in the system is respected and secure. I strongly object to imperialistic attitudes of killing other people’s languages in the name of nation-building.

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