2013: ZCO donates to education
UNICEF provides motorbikes, boats and books to support education in Zambia
By Mark Maseko
LUSAKA, Zambia – UNICEF Zambia has handed over 78 motorbikes and two banana boats to the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education to support monitoring of educational standards in schools in four provinces. The supplies are valued at Zambian Kwacha (ZMK) 972,900 (US$180,000).
A total of 16 districts in Eastern, Western, Luapula and Muchinga Provinces will be reached with these supplies. As part of UNICEF Zambia’s support to improving reading skills among learners, UNICEF also handed over teaching and learning materials for school-based Early Childhood, Care, Development and Education (ECCDE) centers being piloted in the same four provinces and also 28,420 supplementary readers for students in grades 1 to 4, of which 19, 200 are in local languages (Silozi, Ichibemba, and Chinyanja) with the balance (8,900) in English. The books are valued at ZMK1, 661,856.00 (US$311,442).
Speaking during the handover ceremony, UNICEF Zambia Deputy Representative Shaya Asindua commended the Government for providing more children with the opportunity to attend school.
“I wish first to acknowledge that the Government of the Republic of Zambia has made tremendous strides in improving access to basic education. As of 2011, the net enrolment for Grade 1 to 7 stands at 96 per cent. This positions Zambia towards achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2, Target 3, which ensures that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able complete a full course of primary schooling,” said Ms. Asindua.
Ms. Asindua emphasized that continuous professional development and guidance from standards officers is critical in ensuring that teachers provide the right content to young learners. She added that good quality education will help reduce school dropouts and also improve passing rates.
The Hon. Minister for Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education, Dr. John Phiri, MP, called for improved monitoring of education standards in the country, especially in rural areas. He said that the lack of monitoring caused by inadequate transportation had demoralized teachers and learners. Dr. Phiri thanked UNICEF for the donation of the motorbikes and supplementary reading materials. He pointed out that Government has enjoyed a rich collaboration with UNICEF over the years.
“We need to ensure as a ministry that actual learning is taking place in our schools. We need to show our teachers and learners that there are officers in the ministry who are charged with the care and support of the teachers and learners,” the Hon. Minister said. “Our biggest challenge in reaching out to our teachers and learners, it appears, is the handicap of transport at district and zone levels.”
“The supplies UNICEF donated will contribute to addressing the dire need for transportation by school monitors and supplementary reading materials for young learners,” said Ms. Asindua.
In UNICEF Zambia’s Country Programme 2011-15, the UN agency is supporting interventions aimed at improving access to early childhood education, the quality of education provision and life skills in Eastern, Western, Luapula, Northern and Muchinga provinces.
“Improved academic achievement and equitable access to quality education will remain a priority for UNICEF to support Zambia’s attainment of Millennium Development Goal 2 regarding achieving universal primary education and the Education for All goals,” said Ms. Asindua.
Maseko is a communication officer for UNICEF Zambia.