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Initiate Systems to Address Free Education Gaps, Jesuit Scholars in Zambia Urge Government

The Logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Credit: JCTR

Zambia’s government needs to put in place effective systems aimed at addressing gaps that may arise with the implementation of the free education policy in the country, members of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) have said. 

In a Tuesday, February 15 statement, the Jesuit scholars say challenges are likely to rise as is the case whenever new policies are introduced. 

JCTR officials recommend that the Zambian government “through the Ministry of Education and through the law enforcement authorities such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, put in place effective systems to close corruption and inefficiency gaps that may arise with the delivery of free education.”

Since the implementation of the free education policy in January this year, there have been cases of congestion in schools, corruption, and abuse of authority, the Jesuit scholars say.

“Consideration of how learners are going to access and benefit from the free education policy is critical in guaranteeing that every child has access to education,” they say, and add that congestion in schools comes with unfavorable teacher-pupil ratios, which manifest in how teachers are available to offer services and care to the students. 

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“Given the role that quality education plays in the development of the country’s economy and society, JCTR is thus concerned about the system's weaknesses, which can easily be misused or abused if not diligently safeguarded,” JCTR officials say.

They further urge education stakeholders to assist the government in ensuring that the free education policy achieves its intended objectives. 

“We must all work together to combat corruption because corruption breaches human rights and denies ordinary citizens, especially the poor, access to social services,” say members of the research, education and advocacy institute based in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.

They also call on ordinary citizens, especially parents and guardians, to report any cases of graft or policy implementation challenges to the appropriate authorities. 

“We believe that active citizen participation will help our country to attain high levels of accountability and transparency at all levels of governance and public resource management. This in turn will deliver greater human development outcomes. Together we can,” the Jesuit scholars say in their February 15 statement. 

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The free education policy kicked off in the Southern African nation on January 10.

Last week, members of the Jesuit institute lauded the Zambian government for introducing free education in the country. 

Describing the policy, which took effect on January 10 this year as a step in the right direction, JCTR officials said free education is essential in bridging the gap between the poor and rich in Zambia. 

They added that the free education policy “does aid in providing a cushion to households insofar as meeting the household basic needs is concerned.”