Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) welcomes the position taken by the Ministry of General of Education (MoGE) through the Minister Hon. David Mabumba for bringing to fruition the reduction of fees in public schools and Colleges. The Ministers’ pronouncement to reduce fees in public colleges of education to K1,800 for boarders, K800 for non-boarders and K500 for the teaching practice is a positive move towards increasing access to higher education.
However, ZANEC is concerned with the impact that this reduction will have on education service delivery, given the reduced funding to the Education and Skills Sector. As we are aware, most schools and colleges go for several months without funding from government. In the absence of funding from government, schools and colleges are mostly operating using contributions from parents only. Therefore, the reduction of fees without a corresponding increase in funding from government means that the schools and colleges will not have enough money to procure the much needed teaching and learning materials thereby affecting the learning outcomes. It is as a result of this that some college managements and PTAs have resorted to overcharging parents in order to meet the operational costs.
It is on this account that we would like request government through the Minister of General Education to explain the current policy for financing the colleges of education. Is it supposed to be cost sharing or it is the parents alone who should pay the full cost of running our colleges? If the policy is cost sharing, why is government unable to pay its share of the cost of providing quality education in our colleges of education? We therefore call upon the Minister of General Education to assure education stakeholders that government will meet the funding gap that will be caused by the reduction of fees at school and college levels. Failure to do so, the policy pronouncements will have adverse effects on the delivery of quality education in our schools and colleges.
We therefore restate our appeal to the government to ensure that the 2020 Education and Skills Sector budget increases to at least 22% of the national budget in order to ensure that policy pronouncements on the reduction of school fees and college fees do not hurt the quality of our education. We further call upon the government to share their immediate plan of how they intend to close the financing gap that will be caused by the reduction in fees at both school and college level.