The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is looking forward to the presentation of the 2022 National Budget by the new Minister of Finance. We have great expectations that the new dawn government of the United Party for National Development (UPND) will demonstrate political will by significantly increasing the allocation to the 2022 National Budget. As you are aware, the share of the education budget in the last 6 years has been on the downward trend, reducing from 20.2% in 2015 to the current 11.55%. However, we are delighted as a Coalition that among the 9 education commitments outlined in the UPND Manifesto, increasing the share of the education budget in line with the country’s commitment at international level is the first commitment.
As, ZANEC, we would like to reiterate the need for increased budgetary allocation to the education sector given the advent of the COVID19 Pandemic that has negatively impacted on the delivery of quality education. In order for our children to learn in safe and healthy environments amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, additional funding towards the supply of more teachers, public protective equipment, masks, hand sanitizers and handwashing facilities in schools is required among others. We therefore call upon the Minister of Finance to make a positive difference by considering increasing 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. We further propose for the introduction of an Education Levy that will provide dedicated funding to education.
Specifically, ZANEC proposes the following to be prioritized in each of the education subsectors:
Education Policy Framework
- Finalize the development of the National Education Policy using a highly participatory and consultative process in order to consolidate the policy commitment contained in the UPND manifesto as well as other stakeholders’ policy priorities
Early Childhood Education (ECE)
- Support the provision of accessible WASH facilities as well as procurement of teaching and learning materials for all ECE centers.
- Support feeding programs in the ECE centers to contribute towards enhanced brain development and general child development outcomes.
- Deploy 1500 qualified ECE teachers to support the annexing of ECE centers to existing primary schools.
- Construct boarding house facilities in 500 schools to reduce instances of early pregnancies, alcohol abuse and early child marriages; improved attendance in schools and reduced school dropout rates.
- Finance all school infrastructure that is at more than 80% to ensure provision of conducive learning environments; increased access to quality education and increased motivation for teachers and learners.
- Create a budget line to purchase appropriate teaching and learning materials for STEM subjects to promote hands on learning in STEM subjects that would lead to improved learner performance in STEM subjects.
- Provide school grants to support the Re-entry Policy to enhance compliance by all school managers to return out of school children back to school and also increase number of girls completing school.
Gender and Equity
- The budget line for sanitary towels siting under the Ministry of Community Development must be allocated to the Ministry of Education as it targets school girls. Allowing the Ministry of Education to be the recipient of the sanitary towels budget line will increase the efficiency in their distribution in schools.
- Provide necessary facilities in rural areas to attract both male and female teachers to teach in rural areas; increased number of female teachers working in rural areas taking care of the Gender imbalance.
- Provide a specific budget line for financing the construction of Special Education Needs (SEN) classrooms in all schools to accord learners with special education needs an opportunity to have adequate learning space.
- Recruit 500 female STEM teachers to provide a balanced number of male and female teachers teaching STEM subjects in schools.
Youth and Adult Literacy Education
- Increase budget allocation to YALE to 3% of total Education Budget in 2022 in order to increase implementation of planned YALE activities as current budget is inadequate.
- Provide for a budget line to equip Education Broadcasting Services Studios with modern equipment to enable the expansion of Alternative Modes of Education Provision to rural areas amidst COVID 19 pandemic.
- Construct 172 community learning centers to improve access to skills, internet services and radio for individuals that are unable to attend formal schools
- Recruit 1000 facilitators in adult learning centers to ensure retention of qualified adult educators to reduce on brain drain in YALE subsector.
Skills and tertiary
- Zero rate digital equipment to enhance Alternative Modes of Education Provision being provided to help reduce the number of out of school children and provide for continuity of learning.
- Increase allocation to infrastructure development to mitigate the current shortage of accommodation for students in Institutions of Higher Learning.
Finally, education is empowering and is key to national development, therefore, prioritizing it with adequate finances should be a must for Zambia in order to attain sustainable economic development.