Zambia should use mining revenues to fund education
AfriMAP reccomends measures to improve education system
A new in-depth study on education in Zambia calls on the government to do more to ensure that greater resources are allocated to education.
The appeal comes at a time when donor funding for the sector is increasingly erratic, with Denmark and the Netherlands stopping their support for education in Zambia this year. The Ministry of Education subsequently announced that it only required donors to provide 4 percent of its budget but there are concerns that the government will now have to borrow to fund the education sector.
Considering this, the African Governance Monitoring and Advocay Project (AfriMAP) report - entitled Zambia: Effective Delivery of Public Services - suggests that the Zambian government should focus on increasing revenue collection from the copper mining industry and using this to support education.
However, this approach has been met with resistance from the government - a stance that needs to be reversed.
“Resourcing education should be seen as an investment instead of an expense, because it is the future of any country - and Zambia is not an exception," said Ozias Tungwarara, Director of AfriMAP. "The government has the means to adequately fund the sector, so it must not lose the opportunity to do so.”
The report says that the inadequate level of funding explains the education system's poor performance in terms of both access and quality. Although budget allocation to the education department has risen over recent years, its funding is still insufficient.
The education sector also faces other major challenges, including poor planning and implementation. The goal of building 7,500 classrooms for 600,000 primary school pupils by 2010 was missed by miles - with less than half of the promised classsrooms actually being constructed. Meanwhile, only 47 of the target of 100 new high schools were built.
But Zambia's education system also seems to be a victim of its own successful attempts to get more children into school - with enrollment rates jumping from 2.5 million in 2004 to more than 3.5 million in 2010. However, the 80,000 teaching staff cannot cope with this huge influx and the report calls on the government to urgently focus on reducing the pupil-teacher ratio, which has impacted negatively on the quality of education being provided, and improving the conditions of service for teachers.
The study also calls on civil society to focus on ensuring that investment in education is prioritised, especially given the country's copper mining revenues, which are expected to grow in the coming years.
The report, authored by Choolwe Beyani, focuses on eight thematic areas:
- The State of education services;
- International and national legal frameworks;
- Information collection and management;
- Strategic planning;
- Budgeting and financial management;
- Human resources;
- External oversight mechanisms; and
- Donor relations.
It makes key recommendations in all thematic areas.