The National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQUEZ) says it is hopeful that the government will put more resources in constructing boarding schools for girls, especially in the rural areas.
NAQUEZ Executive Director Aaron Chansa has told ZANIS in an interview that most girls, especially from rural areas have dropped out of schools, due to not being able to walk to secondary schools located in far flank areas.
Mr Chansa noted that some of the girls in rural areas are on weekly boarding schedules where they leave their homes and go to nearby secondary schools, where they are subjected to look after themselves.
“This is a very big danger to our girl child because during their stay at these boarding schools they become vulnerable and this is why we hope that more boarding schools are going to be built to address this situation,” he noted.
The NAQUEZ Executive Director added that his organisation would also want to see a lot of money going towards the purchase of sanitary pads for the vulnerable girls.
He stressed that girls have in the past been faced with challenges to attend class, especially those that are in rural areas, as they lack proper sanitary hygiene during their menstrual cycle.
“In areas where these pads are provided we see a lot of girls attending school,” Mr. Chansa stated.
And Mr Chansa noted that the issue of teacher recruitment should also be looked into urgently.
He observed that having less teachers in rural areas dilutes the quality of education and further discourages young people, especially the girl child, from attending school.
“This is one thing that we think is very urgent, we want to see many more teachers being recruited so that we can reduce the unhealthy teacher-pupil ratios that exist especially in the rural areas,” he said.
He added that more schools must be provided with solar energy so that even rural areas can have access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) lessons.
“It is very difficult for our pupils in rural areas. Despite ICT being compulsory, accessing that kind of important learning is a huge challenge. We need to see that,” Mr. Chansa emphasised.
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) General Secretary Newman Bubala, said the education sector is faced with challenges that can be addressed as long term and short term challenges that need immediate implementation.
Mr Bubala pointed out that the long term challenges include building a lot of infrastructure especially in rural areas.
He noted that the teaching fraternity faces a huge challenge when it comes to securing accommodation in rural areas.
Mr Bubala further indicated that the road network is another challenge, including the banking system.
“We still have a situation where people have to travel long distances to get their salaries and during the rainy season they are completely cut off, so we are trying to say every school built, do we have a proper road network, do we have a proper banking system,” he noted.
And Mr Bubala advised that in addressing short-term challenges, there should be a deliberate input in the recruitment of teachers in the budget.
“There are a lot of teachers out there who are not recruited, they have already been trained so one wishes that in the 2022 budget there should be a lot of input towards the recruitment of teachers,” Mr Bubala emphasised.
He added that in terms of establishment, many of the teachers are not confirmed including headmasters because of frozen positions.
“Not only that, there is a school establishment, to date many of our teachers are not confirmed, many of our headmasters are not confirmed, there are frozen positions, all these are challenges,” he stated.
Mr Bubala urged that the 2022 budget should look into upgrading in the education sector so that people can be in the right positions and get paid accordingly.