Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has announced a raft of measures aimed at boosting the education sector in Zambia in the 2022 national budget.
The budget themed ‘Growth, Jobs and Taking Development Closer to the People,’ has proposals that if implemented, will transform the Zambian education sector forever with an allocation of K18.1 billion, translating into 10.4% of the total budget.
In his address, Dr Musokotwane said the New Dawn Administration believes that education is the greatest equalizer that sound education requires teachers.
He regretted that unfortunately, most of the Zambians schools, especially those in rural areas, do not have enough teachers.
“It is not uncommon to find only two or three teachers at schools with grades one to seven or even grades one to nine. Madam, despite this limited number of teachers in some schools, there are at least 55,000 young trained teachers who have not been employed. Some have been waiting for six years or more post training to be hired. The New Dawn Administration has found money to recruit teachers and it will always prioritise education,” Dr Musokotwane revealed.
He announced that for the first time in the history of Zambia, government will recruit 30,000 teachers in 2022.
Dr Musokotwane said the number is more than what was hired in the past ten years put together.
“The recruitment will help reduce the backlog of unemployed teachers. Over the next five years, the Government will continue to hire more teachers in net terms and the plan is to be current by 2026. These recruitments are aimed at improving the quality of education by reducing the pupil-teacher ratios. The teachers will be deployed equitably to serve in all districts,” he stated.
The Finance Minister said, to further improve the quality of education through the provision of teaching and learning materials, grants to primary schools will be increased three-fold in 2022.
Dr Musokotwane also announced that Government will construct an additional 120 secondary schools to increase access to education.
“The financing for this initiative will be through a concessional loan I recently signed with the World Bank under the Zambia Education Enhancement Project. This loan is payable over 30 years,” he stated.
He also announced that Tuition, Parent Teachers Association and examination fees that learners pay in public schools will be abolished.
“The United Party for National Development has always advocated for free education for the child whose family is unable to pay. It is such support during the UNIP era that enabled many of us to be where we are today. We shall always be committed to this ideal. As such, the 2022 Budget envisages concrete steps towards this goal. Government already provides free educational services for learners at primary school level. At secondary school level, however, learners currently pay. Typically, they pay K600 per annum per child for tuition when not in boarding. If in boarding, they pay a total of K3,600 inclusive of K600 tuition fee. In addition, Parent Teachers Association fees and examination fees are paid. Tuition, Parent Teachers Association and examination fees that learners pay in public schools will be abolished.”
He added, “For the avoidance of doubt, the fees charged at public early childhood and secondary schools for a child to be allowed to attend class are done away with. To this end, grants from the Government to public schools will be increased to meet the operational costs that were previously financed by the fees.”
“Regarding boarding fees for secondary school learners, a bursary scheme will be introduced for vulnerable learners. The beneficiaries for bursaries will not be chosen from Lusaka or provincial headquarters and not even at the district level. Rather, it will be determined at the community level in the constituencies, possibly at ward level. The provision of the budget for the bursaries will be through the Constituency Development Fund,” Dr Musokotwane said.
“I am sure you will agree with me that in a situation where the most deserving children must be identified, the community itself provides the best possibility for making a determination because such children are known within their locality. The exact modalities are being worked out ahead of the opening of schools in 2022.”
He said to ensure that the girl child has equitable opportunities to quality education as a boy child, Government will address challenges that the girl child faces such as walking long distances to school, early marriages, menstrual hygiene and unwanted pregnancies.
“In this regard, we will expand the support to the girl child through the Keeping Girls in School Programme from the current 28,964 in 2021 to 43,520 girls in 2022.