By KETRA KALUNGA
We welcome the commitment by the government to provide free education to children but it’s not attainable with the low levels of funding to the sector which is at 11.5 percent especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the teacher unions have said.
Southern Province deputy permanent secretary, Kennedy Mubanga said during the 16 days of Child Rights activism that the government is committed to providing free education and other social-economic opportunities to all children across the country.
But National Action for Quality Education (NAQEZ) executive director Aaron Chansa said free education is not practical until the government increases funding to the sector.
Mr. Chansa said in an interview that with the low level of funding to the education sector, it’s not possible to provide quality free education because it comes at a cost.
He said there is need for increased funding of at least 20 percent of the national budget to the education sector for the government to attain its goal of providing free education to children.
“Schools need funding especially during Covid-19, a lot of materials are needed to combat the virus, even the free education that is being talked about from Grade 1 up to 7 is not actually free, parents have to pay PTA and this money is very much helpful to schools,” he said.
And Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) general secretary, Newman Bubala said the provision of 100 percent free education would be a difficult task to attain especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Bubala said in an interview that the union was pleased with the government’s commitment but it would be a difficult task to provide a complete package of free education without any contribution from parents.