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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Is K324 million enough to fund Public schools in Zambia? Opposing view points

Columns Is K324 million enough to fund Public schools in Zambia? Opposing view...

The Release of K324million to Cover 3 months Costs for Schools in Zambia

By Emmanuel Mwamba
The Treasury has released K1.284 billion of which K960 million will be payment made to farmers owed by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).A good thing as farmers were made to go into another farming season without receiving payments for their produce for the 2020/2021 farming season.The other release of K324million is the 2022 First Quarter Operational Support Fund to public schools aimed at facilitating the implementation of free education.

HOW MANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS DO WE HAVE?

As at 2019, we have 1,009 Secondary Schools and 8,343 primary schools.The allocation of K324 million to cover costs for the first quarter (3 months) translates to roughly K34.644.00 per school to meet administrative costs until April.

WHAT FEES WERE BEING PAID IN THE PAST

Education has been free at both Primary and Secondary Schools since 2011. It has never been Government policy to charge tuition fees for learners in both primary and secondary schools.
However, learners were required to pay user and boarding fees to meet costs of electricity, water and sanitation, stationery and payment of salaries for Daily Classified Workers (CDEs) such as cleaners, office orderlies (help) and guards to secure school premises. As seen from the release of funds to cover the first school term by the Treasury, the funds are clearly inadequate.
Government may consider picking up some of the costs such as wages of CDEs as the abolition of user fees and scrapping of the PTA fund poses an immediate challenge to school administrators.

CDF, BOARDING FEES & TERTIARY BURSARY SCHEMES

The Treasury may consider releasing immediately, the allocation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for 2022 where components of education fees such as boarding fees for eligible and identified vulnerable learners and bursary support for those going to Colleges and Universities are embedded in.The education sector will continue to attract attention this year as the recruitment of 30,000 teachers is expected to take place.Government has budgeted for K18.1billion to the sector, and of this, K1.7 billion is for recruitment of the teachers.
Clearly the entire 2022 National Budget standing at $10billion ( K173billion ) is ambitious. It remains to be seen, on the revenue side, if these ambitious goals set, will be met.

A QUICK CHAT WITH AMBASSADOR EMMANUEL MWAMBA ON K324 MILLION RELEASED FOR SCHOOLS

By Alexander Nkosi

I just read an article written by Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba, where he is saying that the K324 million released for schools for term one is not enough to cater for their needs. He argued that K324 million for 9352 primary and secondary schools is not enough as it gives us an average of K34,644.

I will not dwell on whether it is accurate to add primary schools and secondary schools and simply get the average or whether to simply bunch up urban and rural schools that clearly have different needs, but I will focus more on why the step taken by government is the right one.

At some point in my career, I was M&E Lead for the biggest education projects in the country by then. I interacted with schools, both rural and urban across nine provinces. I got to appreciate some of the serious challenges they faced. While these schools received small grants from government, sometimes they could go for months without receiving these grants and when they did, it was mostly only part payment which wasn’t even enough to cover what they owed. We have all seen how grant aided institutions, including the few universities, have struggled the past years. The situation was worse at district level and worse still in schools.

The other thing is that while learners paid some fees, not everyone managed to pay while others only made part payments. Since these are public schools, they were instructed not to chase learners who hadn’t paid. At some point a well known senior government official even instructed schools to accept in-kind payment like goats, chicken maize etc.

So what has changed? Leaners from grade 1 to 12 in day schools no longer have to pay and those in boarding schools can access sponsorship under CDF. This is definitely a step in the right direction. We all understand the huge debt overhang and other serious economic challenges we face. With time, especially after debt restructuring and once the economy starts recovering, Zambia can extend free education to boarding schools and expand tertiary education scholarships.

The other positive is that whereas previously a term would end without these schools receiving money from government and significant payment from learners, the situation is now different as three weeks before schools open, funds have already been released. In most cases it might actually work better than when they used to charge some fees but struggled to get this money in full and on time.

In conclusion, like every project, there is learning to be done and we will definitely get better as we go. If not already addressed, I’m sure government will look into the issue of Daily Classified Workers. One immediate solution would be to cover them under CDF if a quick ammendment can be made. Pending release of CDF, they can be covered for a month or two under the grants they have received.

8 COMMENTS

  1. You have to start from somewhere, you have to develop accountability capacities and processes, even for CDF it is good that government is starting with a small amount of K25.7 million, you cant just throw money like that for a new initiative, so the money may not be enough, but the important things are the intention, the first step, the development of capacities, processes and transparence trail. The idea is to operate in a transparent manner and be different from the wayward PF way of doing things and usher in a real new dawn of doing things

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  2. Will the minister explain how much each primary and secondary school will receive. Further the minister needs to provide guidelines on how the funds will be utilised. I pray I will not hear that more funds will be allocated to schools in North Western, Southern and Western provinces as these schools were underfunded by the previous government. Providing funding without guidelines on how the money should be spent is as good as flushing the money down a toilet. There is too much chipante pante in this government

    . Providing funding without guidelines is as good as flushing money down the toilet. There is too much chipante pante in this government

  3. Its enough!!! The problem is you’re used to money being stolen so you’re factoring in corruption. In PF it was not enough because of stealing. Prudent use of small money can go a long way without stealing.

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  4. #2  William Banda 
    January 4, 2022 At 6:52 pm

    “Its enough!!! The problem is you’re used to money being stolen so you’re factoring in corruption. In PF it was not enough because of stealing. Prudent use of small money can go a long way without stealin”

    Well said, could not have put it better.

    There was was also the hudge cader bill for PF running into millions per month…..

    Just prudent use of resources will show how rich zambia really is…….

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  5. We have had free education since 2011??? So want was binoculars man crying about???

  6. Its this shameless clown again Emmanuel Mwamba…one minute he is crying about why the govt is not offering free education the next he is wondering if the money being offered to schools is enough. This is a man who was part of reckless govt who depleted all the resources and couldnt plan or culdnt even avail such funds instead they would borrow $1.2 billion to build a motorway with hotels.

  7. William Banda – its skin cringing to read articles by Mwamba because he was part of the PF corruption and PF propaganda machine but here wants to masquerade as some neutral concerned journalist. Its a shame this govt dont know how to put this moron in his place…the longer the keep a weak Govt spokesperson the more clowns like Mwamba will have a field day writing rubbish all day…. you can only ignore such clowns at your own peril.

  8. Remember also that Mwamba was the spokesman for the former President Frederick J Chiluba….corruption and Mwamba are intertwined.

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