Saturday, June 15, 2024

ZANEC Concerned on Low Resource Allocation To Adult Literacy

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The Zambia National Educational Coalition (ZANEC) notes with concern how youth and adult literacy education has continued to be the least funded in the education and skills sectors despite the role that literacy plays in a person’s wellbeing.

This is evident from an analysis of the 2022 National Budget to the Education and skills sector by the Zambia National Education Coalition.

Zambia National Education Coalition Executive Director George Hamusunga stated that, in order to ensure that no one is left behind, there’s need to enrich and transform the existing learning spaces through an integrated approach that will enable literacy learning in the perspective of lifelong learning.

Mr Hamusunga added the transformation of literacy learning spaces not only entails the management of physical facilities more sustainably but also comprises changes in the governance structure of education systems and institutions by allowing the outcomes of literacy from informal and non-formal settings to be recognized, validated, and accredited through flexible data-driven monitoring and evaluation processes.

“The characteristics of youth and adult learners, their evolving needs for literacy learning such as flexibility, proximity, ease of access, and link with the labour market are guiding factors for the transformation of literacy learning spaces,” Mr Hamusunga stated

“According to the Cambridge English dictionary, transformation means a complete change in the appearance or character of something, especially for purposes of improvement. A transformation is therefore an extreme radical change, as we can extract from this definition, it is indeed important to transform spaces that we have been using to deliver literacy,” Mr Hamusunga added

He noted that this is because the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a wakeup call not to do things as usual in the Education and Skills Sector, learning should no longer be confined to a classroom or meeting physically, instead, there’s need to embrace blended learning spaces that combine face to face and remote learning modes in order to mitigate against the learning loss that has resulted from the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need learning spaces that can help us provide continuity of learning even during calamities such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said

Mr Hamusunga said that, it has been observed that although digital learning is key in providing continuity of learning in homes, not everyone has access to digital platforms, hence the need for investment in digital infrastructure especially in rural areas.

“There is need to narrow down or completely reduce the divide between the vulnerable and the privileged people to ensure equitable access to e-learning digital platforms,” he said

He explained that the main challenge that the education system is currently facing is the low literacy levels even among children at primary school level, with only 5% of grade 7 pupils achieving minimum proficiency in literacy according to the 2018 report by the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the education system is experiencing a foundational literacy crisis, and something needs to be done now to reverse this status quo.

“As ZANEC, we are saddened that according to UNESCO, nearly 24 million learners might never return to formal education post COVID-19, out of which, 11 million are projected to be girls and young women,” he cited

Mr Hamusunga further explained that, according to the Zambia Demographic Health Survey of 2018, people living in urban areas are more likely to be literate than those living in rural areas, although the gap in literacy rates between urban and rural populations is higher among women than among men, and 81% of urban women and 91% of urban men are literate, as compared with 54% of rural women and 74% of rural men.

“It is also evident that most people in our communities are unable to access Constituency Development Funds (CDF) because they are unable to read and write,” he noted

Mr Hamusunga has since appealed to the government through the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to allocate more funds to recruit more adult literacy instructors targeting all the provinces in the country and not only one province as it was in the 2022 National Budget.

Mr Hamusunga highlighted this in commemoration of the International Literacy Day which falls on 8th September, with this year’s theme “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces”.

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