Educated women in Zambia are shunning politics

Zambia has urged women, particularly in developing nations to actively engage in the political governance and bridge the global gender, social and economic gap if sustainable economic progression among nations is to be achieved.

Zambia’s Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri has told the United Nations that educated women in Zambia, as in many other countries are shunning politics because its male-dominated landscape has often been hostile and unpleasant to the female gender.

Mrs. Phiri has however said the Government of Zambia has continued to create an enabling environment for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through a range of innovative policies meant to close the gender social, economic and political disparities.

Speaking when she opened the 63rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women side event, Mrs. Phiri noted that the competition in elective political positions of leadership in many countries is often too aggressive for the full participation of educated women, hence creating gender inequalities.

The theme for the 63rd CSW is: “Promoting Rights-based Social Protection Policies for Gender Equality, a prerequisite for Social Justice and Sustainable Development.”

The side event was organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in conjunction with Zambia, Women in Informal Employment Globalising Organising, Africa Platform for Social Protection and Africa Labour Network.

“In Zambia, like many other countries, particularly in developing nations, for women to get to high elective political positions, they have to defeat men and it is not an easy undertaking. Educated women are shunning politics because the male-dominated political sphere has remained aggressive. But women have to actively engage in the political governance of countries if the social and economic gender gap has to be closed for sustainable development,” Mrs. Phiri said.

She stated that Zambia remains committed to enhance gender mainstreaming through the development of policies and programmes that would be able to reduce poverty and vulnerability among women and girls.

Mrs. Phiri explained that with the National Social Protection Policy, Zambia has seen the enactment of the National Health Insurance and the approval of an integrated framework which aim at ensuring overall coherence and maximization of development impacts of investment in social protection.

She said that Zambia’s implementation of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme has so far improved nutrition levels among vulnerable rural households who can now access to adequate food.

Mrs. Phiri stated that the Government of Zambia is implementing the Food Security Programme, which is aimed at enhancing food security at household level through crop divarication, conservation farming as well as the promotion of alternative livelihoods among communities.

“The role of the Social Protection System is not only reducing poverty but also for achieving human development outcomes such as nutrition, health and education and tackling social inequality. Social protection programmes have the ability to tackle social constraints such as lack of income or income-generating capacity,” She added.

The 63rd Commission on the Status of Women was also attended by Zambia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Dr. Auxillia Ponga, Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe, Ms Helen Mudora, a civil rights activist from Kenya and Dr Laura Alfers of Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising in South Africa.

This is contained in a statement issued by First Secretary for Press at Zambia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Wallen Simwaka.

Gender minister talks women education

MINISTER of Gender Elizabeth Phiri points at women’s access to secondary education from about 25 percent in 2011 to 52 percent in 2016 as one of her ministry’s greatest achievements.

She says there is general affirmation in Zambia for equitable quality education for boys, girls, women and men.

However, the sticky point is on women’s poor representation in the political and economic spheres. For example, women only hold a marginal 18.8 percent of parliamentary seats.

Government urged to stop printing exam papers abroad

The National Action for Quality Education in Zambia has urged government to stop printing exam papers abroad.

Organisation Executive Director Aaron Chansa says the trend does not only manage to export capital and jobs away from Zambia but also denies an opportunity for Zambians to acquire important engineering and printing skills which this exercise would present if done locally.

Mr. Chansa said his Organisation finds the current practice of printing national examination papers out of the country strange and very inimical to skills development and government’s desire to industrialize for job creation.

“We are also aware that printing exam papers abroad is costing the country three times more than it would spend if papers were printed at government printers”, he added.

He said NAQEZ is further aware that at the moment, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the only Countries in the region still printing exam papers abroad and think that this is degrading and an assault to our 54 years of political Independence as a nation.

Mr. Chansa said the practice must be curtailed and allow public resources to remain inside the country for skills development and economic growth.

“We don’t agree with the thinking that Zambia has no capacity to print these papers. To this effect, our organization pleads with the Minister of General Education and his Permanent Secretary to critically consider our call and act in order to save billions of Kwacha”, he said.

Mr. Chansa said once this money is saved, ECZ will enhance security in examination management and Begin to handsomely motivate teachers who invigilate national exams.

He said the council will also be in a better position to pay markers of these exams on time adding that the saved funds would eventually enable the Examinations Council of Zambia to ultimately build its own printing facility for future assignments.

This practice began in 2013 and the desire was to cure the mischief of exam leakages in the country.

Before 2013, the printing was done within the country by Government printers. ECZ at first went to Britain to print exam papers and currently the exercise is done in India.

Exam leakages have now reached catastrophic levels. The suspension of national exams last year by the Minister of General Education stands as a classic example to the escalation of this retrogressive vice.

Education Minister hints at shortening exams period to deal with leakages

General Education Minister David Mabumba says his ministry is in talks with the Examinations Council of Zambia ECZ to revise the exam timetable for grades 7, 9 and 12.

Mr. Mabumba says the long periods that are spent writing exams may also be a reason for circulation of leakages among pupils.

He adds that the curriculum also needs to be revised because certain subjects that pupils are learning are being taught at wrong grades.

The minister also says teacher management will also be reviewed and the challenges that they face will be addressed.

Mr. Mabumba has also urged teachers to start authoring text books for pupils because they understand what pupils need due to the day to day interactions with them.

He says it is better for a local teacher to author a text book in vernacular rather than import such from abroad.

Mr. Mabumba was speaking when he toured some schools in Kafue District and had an interactive meeting with teachers from various schools within the district.

New reforms in the Education system underway

General Education Minister David Mabumba has disclosed that his ministry is planning to introduce a number of reforms in the education sector.

Mr Mabumba says among some of the reforms which his ministry is proposing is the examinations reforms and consultations are already in place.

He explains that under the first phrase of the examinations reforms is to strengthen the security arrangement to prevent fraud and malpractices which will be done this year.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with teachers in Samfya district, the Minister indicates that under the new reforms, there will be re-zoning of schools which will mean that not all schools will be keeping examination papers.

He points out that papers will be kept at one school within the zone in a strong room and will only be transported in the morning of exams to all the schools within that zone.

The Minister says this will mean that even the time of starting to write these examinations will be adjusted so as to ensure that exams papers are delivered to all schools within the zone on the actual day.

He notes that under these proposed examination reforms, there will be four layers of examinations strong rooms that is at the Provincial, District and Zonal levels.

Mr Mabumba points out that other proposed reforms are to start the manufacturing of school furniture at provincial levels as opposed to be importing from outside the country.

He further explains the his ministry is also planning to find ways of reforming the curriculum center so that local teachers and Professors at Universities can be involved in the production of books.

Mr Mabumba observes that once someone has gained varsity experience as a teacher and if he or she feels that they can produce a book as they understand learners needs then, they should be given chance as opposed to be importing books from outside.

He observes that this move will help to reduce shortage of learning materials in schools as books will be locally produced by experts in different subjects.

The Minister explains that these proposed changes are all aimed at helping to improve the quality of the countries education system.

And Luapula Provincial Education Officer, Ngosa Kotati used the event to shed more light on the re-entry policy for a girl child.

The Provincial Education Officer says the school re-entry policy only allows a girl child to fall pregnant once.

He explains that this move is aimed at ensuring that the policy is not abused but rather helps a girl child to get educated.

Mr Kotati points out that it is the duty of the Matrons in schools to see to it that girls are counselled once they returns to school after giving birth.

He observes that usually, girls who return to school after falling pregnant are left on their own without proper counselling and guidance which results in some of them falling pregnant again.

Meanwhile, one of the teachers, Shamu Phiri, who spoke on behalf of his fellow teachers thanked the Minister for finding time to talk about the planned reforms adding that, they will help in improving the education system.

He explains that as teachers in the district, they will continue to support the Minister in his effort to improve the education standards in the country.