The Zambia National Education Coalition is concerned with the surge in the number of cases under the third wave of the COVID 19 pandemic recently announced by the Ministry of Health. The impact of the increasing number of COVID 19 cases, as warned by the Ministry of Health, require urgent action by the Ministry of General Education, Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Finance in ensuring that COVID 19 preventive and mitigation measures are strengthened in schools. Our priority should be to protect the health and safety of our learners and prevent further learning loss.
As you are aware, Zambia is among countries globally that made a strategic decision to reopen schools amid the COVID 19 pandemic. The decision to re-open schools last year resulted in Zambia being among the countries globally that have averted a learning crisis that majority of countries are now facing. This can be attributed the political will and leadership demonstrated by the Ministries of Health, General Education and Higher Education which have resulted in relatively minimal losses in learning due to the impact of COVID 19, compared to the situation in other Countries.
This progress notwithstanding, our greatest fear now is that the 3rd wave of the COVID 19 can easily erode our gains if we continue taking the business as usual approach. We need to avoid any further school closure by increasing investment in our schools aimed at making them resilient to the impact of COVID 19. Our schools need to be in the emergency-response mode all the time. Closing of schools should not be an option, given the low reach of our alternative modes of education provision. Zambia has limited options for remote distance learning with lots of challenges. Therefore, schools are our only hope.
Finally, we agree with the statement made by the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kennedy Malama, yesterday that the Ministry of Health will not rush in closing schools but will instead work with the Ministries responsible to enforce the COVID 19 prevention and mitigation measures. However, enforcing COVID 19 measures in schools requires collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health and the two Ministries of Education to ensure the health and safety of our children. We are also concerned that the Ministry of Finance has so far not prioritized the safety and health of children amidst the COVID 19 Pandemic. Currently, most of our schools have no resources to put adequate measures for the prevention of COVID 19. Therefore, we would like to call upon the Ministry of Finance to immediately release emergency funding to primary schools to enable school managements prepare adequately for the third wave.