Official Opening Speech read by the Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary (PS) Administration during the National Engagement Meeting on Strengthening School Governance and Gender Equality Tuesday 17th July, 2018

Official Opening Speech read by the Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary (PS) Administration during the National Engagement Meeting on Strengthening School Governance and Gender Equality Tuesday 17th July, 2018

Government Officials

Members of Parliament (MPs)

World Bank Representative

Mentor Teachers

Learners

Civil Society Organisations

ZANEC Board Members

ZANEC Member Organisations

Members of the press

All protocols observed

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my singular honor and privilege to deliver this official opening speech to you our distinguished guests.

I also take this opportunity to thank ZANEC for providing this space to hold the National Engagement on Strengthening Governance and Gender Equality in our Schools. Indeed, these are matters close to our hearts as Education Sector duty bearers.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Schools belong to their communities. Governance is the mechanism through which a community claims ownership of schools. Therefore, the involvement of the learners and community in the management of the school is very important in achieving positive learner outcomes.

In particular, participation can help to deepen democracy, strengthen social accountability, facilitate efficiency and sustained growth, promote pro-poor initiatives, equity and social justice. It can also be noted that the goals in participatory governance are essential components of the United Nations Development Agenda. This is also key in achieving social accountability as participation begets a strong sense of ownership.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This meeting will enlighten us on the key issues that the learners and communities brought out in the scorecard process, which is a strategy to promote participatory school governance. It will also allow stakeholders to appreciate and address the challenges the learners face in their learning process.

There has been a lot of evidence that schools that are using participatory school governance through involving the learners (pupils), parents, key stakeholders in the community in the management of the school are doing well in terms of having positive learner outcomes. The schools are also able to provide a conducive learning environment for both the learners and the teachers to thrive.  For example I am informed that schools in Chadiza and Vubwi Districts that are part of this initiative have been able to build more toilets and additional classrooms, acquire more computers, reduce absenteeism from the learners and the learners have become more assertive in expressing themselves.

The issue of gender equality in our schools is paramount as it sets a tone for female participation in national development issues. It is of grave concern to us as government when we hear of the girl child facing challenges that lead to their dropping out of schools. It is sad to note that according to the 2016 Education Statistical Bulletin it was reported that 11, 765 girls in primary schools and 3,457 in secondary schools became pregnant and dropped out of school, as such a total of 15,222 dropped out of school in 2016 alone. As the government we are delighted to know that this initiative supports and promotes the implementation of the Re-entry Policy that assures that the girl child goes back to school after delivering the baby.

We are also aware of the various other challenges contributing to gender inequality in schools such as distance, lack of gender sensitive amenities, sexual abuse and indeed community attitudes.

It is because of this that we, as government have taken keen interest in initiatives such as this which promote gender equality in our schools.  We are happy to receive views and recommendations on how we will make education equally accessible to both girls and boys. This resonates well with our national focus of ensuring that no one is left behind.

Therefore, government through the Ministry of General Education wants to affirm its support and commitment to the promotion of participatory school governance and gender equality as it is evident that schools perform well when this principle is followed.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I know the importance of the work you all do. Your presence here reflects the commitment you have in having strengthened school governance that promotes gender equality. This is because concerted effort is needed to having quality education for every Zambian regardless of the gender, physical and mentor outlook.  I therefore urge you to listen attentively and participate fully in the deliberations of this meeting.

I now declare this platform officially opened. I thank you for your attention.

 

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