EDUCATION Minister Douglas Syakalima says government has prioritised education as a means of achieving rapid social-economic development.
And Syakalima says government is putting in place policies which will address effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought education for many young people to a standstill.
Speaking when he officiated at the 12th Pan African Literacy For All (PALFA) conference at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Tuesday, Syakalima said government looked at education as one of the key potential ingredients for job creation and economic development.
He said improving literacy levels among the people was cardinal if Zambia was to meet its development goals and aspirations.
“Our government, under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema has prioritised education as a means of achieving rapid social-economic development. Our government looks at education as one of the key potential ingredients for job creation and economic development. Improving literacy levels among our people is cardinal if Zambia is to meet its developmental goals and aspirations. Our youths must have the ability to manage their immediate environment, support their well being as well as create or find a job,” he said.
Syakalima said every child, regardless of their social status, was entitled to quality education and that literacy played a fundamental role in enhancing quality education.
“Every child, regardless of their social status, is entitled to quality education and literacy plays a fundamental role in enhancing quality education. Literacy rate currently stands at 55.3 per cent, with illiteracy much more pronounced in females than males, while in adults, it stands at 86.7 percent. These numbers are very alarming. The participation of cooperating partners in proving literacy levels amongst boys and girls in schools is the best investment in the journey leading to prosperity of the nation,” he said.
And Syakalima said government’s focus over the next five years will be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting economic growth which could only be achieved once education was prioritsed.
“As a government, our focus over the next five years will be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy. However, this cannot be achieved completely until we prioritse education. This will be done by establishing and enforcing high levels of literacy and high standards of quality education in Zambia. We shall also pursue policies that will address the core barriers of access to education,” he said.
And Syakalima said government was putting in place policies which would address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on learners.
“The new dawn government is putting in place policies that will address the effects of pandemics like COVID-19 that has brought education for many young people to s standstill. These will include e-learning and use of ICT in schools and these will be combined with targeted policies to ensure that national connectivity backbone is enhanced for a digital future,” said Syakalima.
And ChildFund representative Doras Chirwa thanked the Zambian government for hosting the conference.
“This conference could not have taken place without the support from partners. Their contribution to this conference is a clear testimony of their commitment to improve literacy levels in schools in Africa,” said Chirwa.
This year’s PALFA is taking place under the theme; “Repositioning literacy in the context of emerging global challenges and opportunities for Africa”.