Minister Douglas Siakalima has urged cooperating partners to complement the Government’s efforts by building more classes to meet the current demand, especially at primary level.
Speaking when he officiated at the joint sectoral review meeting in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Siakalima said the revised education policies by the Government, enrolments increased at all levels with primary school increasing from 3.2 million to 4.3 million between 2020- 2023, while at secondary school level it stood at 1.5 million from 859, 000.
He said the positive trajectory in school enrolments necessitated the need to put in place measures to address challenges of classroom space and desk deficits.
The minister said the ministry through the Zambia Education Project Implementation Unit (ZEPIU) had been manufacturing and distributing desks to selected schools in Zambia.
He said the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) had also been a major contributor in ensuring that some schools in various constituencies had desks, thereby guaranteeing the presidential directive that no learner should sit on the floor by the end of this year.
“My ministry has also negotiated for additional financing of US$120 million from the World Bank of which the largest proportion of the funds will be for the construction of 120 secondary schools countrywide,” he said.
Mr Siakalima said the Government was constructing early childhood education (ECE) hub centres and satellite centres across Zambia’s 10 provinces in zonal schools and satellite centres in the surrounding primary schools in a phased approach.
He said the construction of the secondary schools would create a minimum of 27,000 school places and 4,400, weekly boarding facilities.
The increase in enrolment has pushed up the number to 80-120 learners per classroom in most schools, especially in rural areas resulting in inadequate number of desks.
“In order to remedy this situation, I strongly wish to appeal to all stakeholders to complement the Government’s effort in building more classrooms, especially at primary and secondary school levels,” he said.
Mr Siakalima also noted the need to build infrastructure that was inclusive of children with special education needs to ensure no child was left behind.
And United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director education office Shannon Taylor praised the efforts by the Government to improve education standards.
“Though improvements have been recorded, much needs to be done to ensure that while children are in school, education standards are raised and provided to meet the international standards,” she said.