Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is insistent that government has to show commitment to their policies and plans by allocating no less than 20% of the Budget to Education and Skills Sector. .Even though it can be argued that the allocations have stayed within the bracket of international frameworks that government allocate between 4 to 6% of their Gross Domestic Product or between 15 to 20 % of their national budgets to Education, the reality on the ground is that our Education and Skills Sector needs a lot of attention if we are to make any significant progress in providing the kind of education envisaged in the Seventh National Development Plan.
We also expect that this increase in allocation should seek to balance the allocations to Personnel Emoluments and Service provision. While we appreciate the fact that 85% of the 2018 budget went to meeting our obligations to the human resource, i.e teachers, among others, we also want to see the allocation to service delivery increased so that the learner must benefit by receiving all requirements that result in good learner outcomes.
ZANEC is STILL concerned with the declining financing to the Education and Skills Sectors to the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) and Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). The national budget allocation to the Education and Skills Sector falls below the Cairo Protocol on Education of at least 20% minimum allocation to which Zambia is assented to. Unfortunately, the budget allocation has continued to go down from 2015 as follows; 2015 (20.2%), 2016 (17.2%), 2017 (16.5%) and 2018 (16.1%). ZANEC is concerned with this nose-diving trend due to the fact that the inadequate funding has diversely affected the delivery of quality education services at all levels. We are concerned that the despite the minimal allocation of funds were disbursed late and in small amounts that would not translate to any meaningful improvement in the sector.
A case in point is the Eastern Province, as learnt during a ZANEC Education Platform that the Province was allocated K12, 949,214.82 in the 2018 National Budget. A quarterly disbursement of K3, 237,303.71 was indicatively supposed to be released to the Eastern Province under the MoGE. However, only K519, 313.81 translating into sixteen percent (16%) of the first quarter allocation was released to the Provincial and District Education Offices. Meanwhile no disbursements were made to Early Childhood Education (ECE), primary, secondary and colleges as of April 2018, for the entire province. This clearly highlights the Ministry of Finance failure to submit funds to the sector for provision of adequate quality services.
The challenge of financing for public service delivery is not unique to the Education and Skills Sector. In a letter dated 25th June, 2018 by the Provincial Education Officer (PEO) instructing all Schools in Lusaka to “Contribution towards Co – Curricular activities” in this letter the PEO directs schools to contribute towards Co- curricular activities involving learners where Primary Schools in Lusaka were instructed to contribute K2, 000.00, Secondary Schools to contribute K7.000. This is a clear manifestation of the lack of resources to undertake education activities resulting in Schools subsidizing central government’s responsibility to finance education.
The Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and the Vision 2030 clearly stipulates the country’s development agenda of “Leave no one behind”. However this motto is mere rhetoric as failure to finance a key Pillar of the 7NDP indicatively does not allow for many vulnerable Zambians to access quality education service.
Erratic funding to the sector raises serious concern to the Coalition. There are currently 752, 700 out of school children as indicated in the Zambia Education Statistical Bulletin. With such erratic and late disbursement of funds to the sector, how is the government going to reduce these ever increasing numbers?
If Zambia is to attain any meaningful development and reduce poverty among its citizens there is need to invest substantially in the Education and Skills Sector. The Education and Skills Sector is a sector whose outcomes rely on government’s willingness to invest adequately. The prevailing funding flow to the sector allows the Coalition to question the government’s commitment and priority to the Education and Skills Sector.
Research and statistics have shown that countries that have made tremendous progress in terms of economic and social development have invested in their Education and Skills Sectors at all levels. ZANEC therefore appeals to the government, particularly the Ministry of Finance to disburse funds to the Education and Skills Sector in the remaining months and quarters of the year on time and according to the National Budget for 2018. The Ministry must also release the funds that have not been disbursed for quarter one (1), two (2) and three (3) immediately. We believe that the little resources to the Education and Skills Sector if disbursed on time can create some meaningful change.
The Coalition further calls on the government through the Ministry of Finance to continue finding avenues for domestically financing the education sector and therefore commend the government on the introduction of the Skills Development Fund.
We want to stress that this call for increased financing is coupled with increased checks and balances to avoid syphoning and mismanagement of the little resources going to the sector. For ZANEC, we will continue to hold government accountable and demand for accountability of funds that are proven to have been misused or stolen from government to be returned immediately and perpetrators punished without any fear or favour. We are pleased that the government has suspended more than 60 officials in the MoGE over misuse of funds. However, more needs to be done to ensure that funds are used for the intended purpose in the Ministries responsible for Education. The misuse of funds has affected the education system in a negative way.
Miss Ivy Mutwale
ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR