Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is pleased to join the rest of the World in commemorating the Global Action Week for Education (GAWE) from Monday, 25th to Friday, 29th April 2022. GAWE is one of the major campaigns for the education movement. The Global Action Week is an important event to all stakeholders in education including government, cooperating partners, civil society organisations and the general public as it presents an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in the provision of quality education for all. The event is also aimed at raising awareness and promoting action toward the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal number 4 by 2030.
The theme for this year’s GAWE is “Protect Education in Emergencies Now”. Therefore, this year’s commemoration emphasizes the importance of protecting and safeguarding education at all times, particularly in emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit the world and has unimaginably affected the education sector. Evidence from the surveys conducted in 2020 and 2021 by ZANEC, UNICEF and Ministry of Education on the continuity of learning during the COVID 19 pandemic revealed that learners from rural areas and poor households as well as those with special education needs faced a lot of challenges in accessing Alternative Modes of Education Provision (AMEP). It is a fact that the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic has worsened the already existing inequalities in the education sector. Therefore, more needs to be done to mitigate against these inequalities so that no one is left behind in our country regardless of their social or economic status. It cannot be over-emphasised that education is a basic human right which should be accessed by everyone even during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
We, therefore call upon the government through the Ministry of Education and education cooperating partners to urgently:
- Protect and guarantee the fulfilment of the right to public quality education for all amidst COVID 19, by providing empowering, safe, respectful, inclusive and accessible learning environments for all learners, regardless of their legal status, age, gender, disability, socio-economic status, ethnicity, race or any other form of discrimination and exclusion.
- Develop and implement crisis-sensitive national education plans and budgets, integrating emergency preparedness measures into the education sector planning to ensure the fulfilment of the right to quality education for all.
- Listen to the voices of the people affected and the local actors (including local civil society, teacher organizations, children and youth groups, parents and communities), while acknowledging their crucial role in the response.
- Ensure sufficient, sustainable and predictable funding for education amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, by allocating at least 10% of the education budget towards mitigating the impact of covid 19, including fully supporting the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) Education Cannot Wait (ECW) replenishment process.
- Ensure that girls and women have equal opportunities to fulfil their right to education in emergency contexts and apply a gender perspective in the planning, budgeting and implementation of emergency response plans.
- Ensure that learners with disabilities have equal opportunities to fulfil their right to education in emergency contexts and apply an inclusive education perspective in the planning, budgeting, and implementation of emergency response plans;
- Ensure the availability of adequately trained teachers in emergency contexts, by improving their remuneration, incentives and support.
- Endorse and implement the safe school’s declaration and ensure that all learners and educators can learn and teach in safety.
Finally, ZANEC would also like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that during the commemoration of the GAWE, we will be hosting some talk shows on some community radio stations countrywide as well as on ZNBC radio 2, to discuss various issues affecting education amidst the COVID 19 pandemic. Therefore, we would like to encourage all our stakeholders to take time to tune in and take part in the ongoing campaign for this year’s GAWE.
We wish everyone God’s blessing as we commemorate the 2022 GAWE.