First, the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) would like to congratulate H.E Mr. Hakainde Hichilema on his election as the 7th President of the Republic of Zambia. We also congratulate Her Honor Mrs. Mutale W. K Nalumango for her election to the position of Vice President of the Republic of Zambia. We further pledge the support of our 81 member organisations composed of local NGOs, International NGOs, Faith Based Organisations, Community Based Organisations and Teacher Trade Unions to the new government.
It is important to note from the onset that the landslide victory by the UPND Alliance was partly a result of the confidence that our people have in Party’s ability to address the many problems affecting the Education and Skills Development sector in our Country. In particular, H. E President Hakainde Hichilema’s campaign commitment to reverse years of underinvestment in the Education and Skills Development Sector elated a number of voters especially the youth. More important also, the resolve to address the significant inequalities that exist for millions of our learners by way of breaking the economic, social and cultural barriers gave a resounding hope to our people. It is however, worth noting that these inequalities in opportunities and access, although endemic, have in the last two years been exacerbated by the advent of the COVID 19 pandemic, as continuity of learning at home during the long school closures has mainly favored learners from rich households who have access to ICT services and equipment.
We further acknowledge the importance of the 9 education commitments outlined in the UPND Manifesto namely; increasing the share of the education budget in line with the country’s commitment at international level; reforming the bursary and student loan scheme to enable students who cannot afford to pay school or university fees access education; providing a platform for government to engage with education stakeholders with civility; as well as developing education-industry linkages and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Other equally progressive commitments made in the Manifesto are; respecting, supporting, empowering and rewarding teachers, tutors and lecturers; promoting culture, arts and sport as an integral part of our national development; ensuring that girls have equal access to education as boys; putting in place policies that address effects of pandemics like COVID-19; developing incentives for industry players to take on students and graduates; and improving quality and range of education courses available. All these commitments are relevant and important as they are targeted at addressing the major gaps that currently exist in the sector. More important also, ZANEC is keen to see the current government translate these important commitments into practical actions in the short, medium and long term across all the education sub-sectors from early childhood education to tertiary education. Specifically, ZANEC would like to recommend the following actions to be addressed in the short term or in the next two years.
- Increase funding to the 2022 education and skills sector budget from the current 11.5% to at least 15% of the overall national budget with the aim of reaching 20% by the year 2023.
- Replace the 1996 National Education Policy with a new Policy that incorporates stakeholders’ priorities and those contained in the UPND Manifesto using a highly participatory and consultative process.
- Build research evidence around effective practices for improving the quality of education at primary school level and use it as a basis for commencing curriculum reforms.
- Undertake the revision of the curriculum designed to come up with a framework that will promote the acquisition of core competencies in numeracy, literacy and life skills; creative and emotional skills; national values; and social benefits.
- Broaden the Skills Development Levy into an Education Levy that will be dedicated to generate revenue for strict investment in the Education and Skills Sector.
- Strengthen both public and community schools by fostering renewed efforts to improve school infrastructure, teacher deployment, provision of teaching and learning materials, provision of ICTs in schools as well as water supply and sanitation facilities.
- Promote the multi-sectoral delivery of holistic early childhood development services based on the 5 domains of nurturing care namely early childhood education, nutrition, health, responsive caregiving, as well as safety and security.
- Expand the delivery of early childhood education (ECE) in rural areas through the annexing of ECE centers to existing primary schools and building low cost community ECE centers where there are no primary schools.
- Implement a robust scholarship support programme at secondary school level and an enhanced loan scheme at tertiary level to increase access to education for learners from poor and vulnerable households who cannot afford to pay school fees.
- Restore student meal allowances across all the public universities in line with the provisions of the Loans and Scholarship Act of 2016.
- Prioritize the recruitment of teachers, including the replacement of the Payroll Management and Establishment Control (PMEC) system to allow for the equitable and fair distribution of teachers.
In conclusion, we would like to appreciate the new government’s recognition of education as a pillar of human capital development and critical for rapid socio-economic development. As we have reiterated in our statements over the years, there is no country that can achieve sustainable economic development without meaningful investment in the Education and Skills Development sector. Our hope therefore is that the current government will continue to place education and training at the center of the economic development and job creation agenda.
 UPND (2021) Party Manifesto 2021 to 2026. United Party for National Development: Lusaka