Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) in collaboration with ActionAid TaxEd Alliance and National Quality for Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) are pleased to join the rest of the World in commemorating the Global Action Week for Education (GAWE) from Monday, 29th May to Friday, 2nd June 2023. The GAWE is an annual event organized by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) through their National Education Coalition members to encourage millions around the world to reflect on the progress they have made towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4. GAWE provides national and regional education focused organisations an opportunity to make targeted efforts to achieve progress on the ground, with the added support of education campaigners and millions of members of the public worldwide joining together for the same cause.
The theme for the 2023 GAWE is “Investing in a just world: Decolonising education financing”. This call to action urges all countries and all partners to take concrete action both nationally and internationally in order to invest more equitably and efficiently in education. Decolonising education financing means changing the power dynamics between national governments and international donors, lenders and financial institutions. It also entails our dependance on taxation as a tool for domestic resource mobilization. This is because taxes are the most stable and reliable sources of domestic revenue available to countries. Taxation is therefore fundamental to state building and forms the foundation of the social contract between the state and citizens. Without taxation there can be no viable state. We are also hopeful that the revision of the 2013 curriculum which is currently taking place will produce a curriculum that is decolonized and localized to answer to the real needs of the people in Zambia.
Furthermore, Domestic resource mobilization (DRM) through progressive taxation has proven to be the most sustainable and predictable source of revenue for all countries. In line with the theme for the GAWE “Decolonizing Education Financing”, we are calling for the need for tax justice – shifting power to developing countries such as Zambia for a just world. We are aware that tax leakages have deprived Zambia of adequate resources to provide quality public services for all citizens. With the introduction of the “Free Education Policy from Early Childhood Education (ECE) to secondary education, Sustainable financing through DRM for education is not only critical for the achievement of SDG 4, but can equally help reduce the need for external dependence and influence on our education agenda.
We also take this opportunity to applaud the government for accelerating the implementation of decentralization by increasing the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) from 25.7 million in 2022 to 28.3 million in 2023. We also commend government for giving the mandate to communities to make decisions on developmental agendas such as the number of schools they want to construct in their communities, among other things. The recruitment of over 30, 000 teachers in 2022 and the planned recruitment of 4,500 teachers this year will represent a landmark achievement towards improving the quality of our education system. Furthermore, the increased funding towards the loans scholarship scheme and reintroduction of meal allowances for students in public universities is also progressive.
It is important to mention that the 2023 GAWE will build on the Transforming Education Summit (TES) that was held in 2022 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly where Zambia participated through our Republican President and committed to take concrete actions for education financing as stated in the TES financing call to action. More specifically, within the decolonization of education financing perspective, Zambia committed to the following actions which we are expectant will be put into action:
1.Committed to reach an adequate tax-to-GDP ratio as required, through ambitious and progressive tax reforms aimed at progressively increasing the national education budget to at least 20% by 2030 to allow for the doubling of spending on education.
- Prioritize global actions on taxes by supporting international reforms that can help countries increase their tax income in a rapid and progressive way, shifting international financial institutions country-level dialogue to be broader and more progressive on tax reforms, and ensuring global rules do not push countries into the “race to the bottom” in terms of taxes and harmful tax incentives. This includes: global action on tax loopholes, agreements on a global asset register, the reduction of illicit financial flows, unfair trade taxation, acting on tax havens and promoting a process for setting fair global tax rules.
- Revise the international financial and debt architecture to ensure sufficient financing can be mobilized in support of long-term, sustainable development objectives, including by removing conditionalities that require cutting expenditure on education as a prerequisite to attain new financing, and using innovative tools such as debt-for-education swaps.
- Support action on debt relief, restructuring, and in some cases, cancellation to ensure more resources are available for investment in education. This includes taking practical debt relief measures, such as the cancellation of the interest on public external debt and commission on the interest, while providing guarantees for transferring this difference to education under direct supervision of the Ministry of Education.
- Develop new curricula by dismantling the existing ones to make them relevant, anti-oppressive, anti-patriarchal and anticolonial by among others localising the curricula by taking into account students’ perspectives.
- Promote access to information by creating resources and tools to help communities understand and navigate the education financing system and hold decision-makers accountable for how funds are allocated.
- Commit to open up national and education budget processes for public ownership and multi-stakeholder participation, especially civil society participation, in budget making, budget monitoring and review for enhanced inclusivity and accountability.
Finally, we would also like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that during the commemoration of the GAWE, we will be having a number of activities including a march past, exhibitions and some talk shows on some community radio stations countrywide to discuss various issues affecting education financing in Zambia. 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 2023 GAWE.
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