ZOCS appeal for PPPs to improve community schools
By staff reporter
THE Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) has appealed for Private Public Partnerships support to out-of-school vulnerable and orphaned children so that they equally enjoy their right to education.
Meanwhile, Ministry of General Education permanent secretary Dr Jobbicks Kalumba says community school teachers need the government’s support.
ZOCS organised a breakfast meeting at Hotel InterContinental in Lusaka today to discuss the plight of community schools in Zambia.
ZOCS has been in existence since 1992 and it remains resolute in supporting out-of-school vulnerable children and orphans.
ZOCS deputy executive director Cleopatra Muma said community schools were a second largest provider of primary education in Zambia.
She notes that public private partnerships (PPPs) can make a huge difference in the sector and the lives of the vulnerable children.
“This type of learning institution is founded, owned and operated at the community level. They began in the early 1990s as a response to the high demand of education against limited resources among others, to provide education to all eligible children,” Muma said, adding that the introduction of community schools had increased the number of children accessing education.
Muma indicated that community schools, which were often viewed as a last-ditch alternative for people with little income, were only expected, by the public, to present an opportunity to learners but without any positive performance expectations.
She, however, noted that over the years, community schools had proved that they were a force to reckon with.
“It has been proven over the years that community schools perform better than government schools at Grade seven level,” Muma noted.
According to the Educational Statistical Bulletin 2016, there were 2, 480 community schools across Zambia providing education to 600, 000 vulnerable and orphaned children, contributing to over 20 per cent of primary school enrolments in the sector.
Muma revealed that ZOCS directly provided quality basic education to 172, 680 learners (87, 388 girls and 85, 292 boys) in 935 demonstration community schools across 76 districts in all the 10 provinces of the country.
In terms of advocacy, the organisation speaks on behalf of all community schools in Zambia,” Muma said.
As an incentive for growth of community schools around Zambia, Muma highlighted that hardships that such schools were grappling with ought to be attended to.
She named such hardships as lack of or limited feeding programmes, school grants, teaching and learning materials, infrastructure, including water and sanitation, among other things.
“ZOCS is appealing to members of parliament, the Ministry of General Education, the private sector and individuals, to rise up to the occasion and support out-of-school children and orphans and vulnerable children so that they equally enjoy their right to education,” noted Muma.
Dr Kalumba, at the same event, said: “We’ll try by all means to incorporate all the community school teachers in matters that are to do with the in-service programmes at district and provincial levels.”
“We need to support our community schools in every angle because at one time, this child who is in a community school will find herself or himself in the mainstream of the education sector of our country. So, why don’t we give them the support?” noted Dr Kalumba.
“The community school teachers need our support. Some of the community school teachers, from our records, perform even better than [those at] established schools. The records are there to show at the Examinations Council of Zambia.”
Parliamentary committee on education, science and technology chairman George Mwamba, who is Lubansenshi member of parliament, said his committee was “a usual ally” to ways of improving education in Zambia.
Chifunabuli member of parliament Ponde Mecha read a speech on behalf of Mwamba.
Others lawmakers present at the event included Moomba Constituency’s Fred Chaatila, Salatiel Tembo (Chadiza), Alfred Mandumbwa (Mulobezi), Misheck Mutelo (Mitete) and Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa (Nalikwanda).
Others are Malungo Chisangano (Gwembe), Hastings Chansa (Chimbamilonga), Harry Kamboni (Kalomo Central), Emmerson Machila (Magoye), Sheal Mulyata (Rufunsa) and Mundia Ndalamei (Sikongo).