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Zambia - Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceZambia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Before 1991, two ministries controlled education: the Ministry of General Education Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Major education policy developments have taken place since 1991. In 1992, immediately after the change of government, the cabinet approved a new education policy entitled "Focus on Learning." The goal of the new education policy was improving access, equity, efficiency, and quality of education through the rehabilitation of school infrastructure, construction of new schools, training of education managers, and procurement and supply of education materials to schools. The new government set up one Ministry of Education in 1992 which is in charge of Primary education, Secondary education, Teacher training, and universities. The Ministry of Education is in charge of formulating education policy and responsible for the operation of all educational institutions including the two universities with the exception of technical and vocational institutions, which fall under the Ministry of Science and Technology. A major policy development was the publication of the national education policy entitled "Educating Our Future" in May 1996. Educating Our Future created a path for educational development, which is in line with the country's new political, economic, and social direction. The benchmarks of the new education policy are decentralization, partnership, equity, efficiency, quality, democratization and effectiveness. The Ministry of Education's Curriculum Development Center is responsible for developing curriculum for all government run primary and secondary schools as well as teacher training colleges.

Currently, participants in educational provisions include the government, communities, individuals, religious organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Since 1991, there has been a growth in the number of private schools and colleges as new participants have been encouraged to enter the education sector following market liberalization of the economy. Even the provision of educational materials has now been liberalized. The new book policy has liberalized the education materials market in such a way that several private publishing companies are now competing for the supplying of books and education materials to schools. The educational system is increasingly becoming diverse, giving alternative paths of access to educational opportunities.

In 1998, the Zambian Government developed a sector approach to the development of basic education through the Basic Education Sub Sector Investment Program (BESSIP). The objectives of BESSIP are to increase access, improve the school infrastructure, decentralize the educational system, build capacity in the educational system, raise equity, develop better a partnership, and improve quality and coordination in basic education (World Bank 1998). Prior to the introduction of the sector program concept, donor activity in education was not well coordinated. Donors financed either separate projects or small programs combining a number of activities, both in basic education as well as in advanced-level education. The framework for a sector-wide investment program was introduced to combine donor activity in the education sector and to attract donors to invest more in this sector. A strategy for the whole education sector was formulated in a policy paper entitled "Investing in Our People."

The formulation of the Basic Education Sub Sector Investment Program aimed at universalizing primary education by the year 2005 and the individual's achievement of a basic education by 2015. Basic education has been defined to mean the first nine years of school. However, before the new policy was introduced, a number of factors had contributed to the low overall quality of basic education. School buildings and equipment were often run-down and educational materials were insufficient. Rural areas suffered from the lack of motivated and qualified teaching personnel. As a consequence of the low level of wages, poor quality teacher training, and insufficient funding for education, the government was hiring unqualified teaching personnel in rural areas. Activities within BESSIP involve 61 percent of the expenditures in the 1998 GRZ budget for education, as well as 83 percent of ongoing donor support to the sector. The major multilateral donors include The World Bank, ILO, UNESCO, and bilateral donors such as NORAD, USAID, DfiD, SIDA, Finland, The Netherlands, and Ireland.

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