The Provision of Universal access to Basic Education in Zambia: an evaluation of the performance of the National policy on Education in Chongwe and Kafue Districts
Bwalya, Emelia Sharon Lungu
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The main purpose of the study was to examine the effectiveness of the National Policy on Education in providing universal access to basic education in Chongwe and Kafue districts. The study also investigated the extent to which eligible children are able to access quality education and determined the factors that may be adversely affecting the provision of universal access to education in Chongwe and Kafue districts.The 4 priority pillars of the education sector are access to basic education, quality education, efficiency and equity. The study evaluated the performance of the National Policy on Education as it relates to the 4 pillars of the education sector. Research data for the study was obtained from the Ministry of Education policy documents, and international organisations and scholarly papers on universal access to education. Head teachers, class teachers and community members were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The other Ministry of Education officials were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. The schools chosen were randomly sampled, while the respondents were all purposively sampled. The study analysed the findingsfrom the policy makers, implementers and community members on the performance of the National Policy on Education. The study revealed that government has built more schools, recruited more teachers, procured more teaching and learning materials, and desks. The education policy has introduced free and compulsory education from grades 1 to 7, the re-entry policy for girls and bursaries for vulnerable children. Sensitisation campaigns have been carried out in the communities in order to increase access to education. A good number of the community members interviewed in the 2 districts that they send their children to government schools reported that the quality of education provided at government schools was good. However, there were a few who thought the quality of education was either average or poor. The education policy has not performed very well in the provision of access to education, quality education, efficiency and equity. The policy has been achieving very high enrolment rates from 2007 to 2009 and increased the enrolment of 7 year olds at grade 1. Despite government efforts to build more schools and provide more educational materials, the demand for education, has so far, outstripped the supply of educational facilities. Completion rates have been increasing but not as high as the enrolment rates at grade 1, meaning that more pupils enrol but less complete primary education. The government needs to invest more resources in the education sector.