Actions to Transform Education in Zambia Identified by Education Sector Stakeholders
19 July 2022
Lusaka, 19 July 2022 – Zambia’s Minister of Education, Douglas Syakalima, MP, today opened the Transforming Education Summit National Consultation Meeting in Lusaka. The objective of the consultation is to discuss the current education landscape in Zambia and to identify actions needed to transform the country’s educational outcomes. This consultation is the pre-cursor to the Transforming Education Summit which the UN Secretary General will convene during the United Nations General Assembly in September this year, in which the Government of the Republic of Zambia will participate.
“We need to take urgent action to change course and realizing this vision of education is not an impossible task. There is hope, especially among the younger generations. However, we will need the entire country’s creativity and intelligence to ensure that inclusion, equity, human rights and cultural diversity tolerance define our future,” Minister Syakalima said.
Globally, across low-middle- and high-income countries, 70 per cent of 10-year-olds are now estimated to be unable to read and understand a simple text. This equates to around 471 million primary school-aged children. According to the Examinations Council of Zambia 2016 National Assessment Survey, 70.25 per cent of Grade 5 Zambian learners were found to be ‘Below the Minimum Level of Proficiency in English while 62.31% were found to be ‘Below Minimum Level of Proficiency in Math’.
The impact of COVID-19 and its resultant school closures has further exacerbated the pre-existing learning crisis and access to continuous education. Following the re-opening of schools, the 2020-2021 Catch-up Programme (Ministry of Education) Assessment found that 57% of Grade 3 to 5 learners in five provinces were not able to identify words in local languages while 37% of Grade 3 to 5 learners were not able to do addition or subtraction. This presents a tremendous challenge for future learning, as basic literacy and numeracy skills are foundational to and essential for, the success of all other educational objectives.
“The Government of the Republic of Zambia has already demonstrated its commitment by eliminating fees for learners, increasing the number of teachers in schools, and keeping vulnerable learners, especially adolescent girls, in school. We believe Zambia is well positioned to take advantage of the Transforming Education Summit – to showcase its progressive reform agenda, and to join the global community to renew its financial commitment to the education sector. The future of Zambia’s children rests in the commitments and actions that we take today,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Beatrice Mutali.
The National Consultation bring together stakeholders from Government, civil society organisations, religious leaders, teachers, students and international development partners. The findings of the consultation will be integrated into a report which will be submitted by Zambia to the UN Summit for Transforming Education, where Heads of State and Governments will announce their national commitments to transforming education.
The Transforming Education Summit, convened by the UN Secretary-General in New York this September, comes after more than two years of the most massive disruption in learning in recorded history, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Summit seeks to mobilize political ambition, action, solutions and solidarity to transform education: to take stock of efforts to recover pandemic-related learning losses; reimagine education systems for the world of today and tomorrow and revitalize national and global efforts to achieve SDG-4.
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Alice Mwewa-Saili, Team Leader, UNESCO
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Arifa Sharmin - Chief (OIC) - Communication, Advocacy, Partnerships and Engagement, UNICEF
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