Challenges in implementation of Free Basic Education Policy: a Survey of selected basic schools of Solwezi district

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Ellison, Museba Robert
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This study investigated challenges in the implementation of Free Basic Education Policy in Solwezi District of the North-Western Province. The study objectives were to determine the challenges encountered by schools in implementing the policy; assess the impact of the challenges on education delivery; establish the effects of the challenges on demand and supply in education; and identify the strategies that schools employed to cope with the challenges. Being a descriptive survey, the study population consisted of 1223 teachers, 178 head teachers in all the basic schools and the entire management team at the District Education Board Secretary’s office. Out of this population, a sample size of 125 teachers was stratified and randomly selected while the 32 key informants were purposively selected. The quantitative and qualitative research paradigm was used for data collection. The teachers responded to a questionnaire while the key informants were interviewed using structured interview schedules. The observation checklist was used to record the schools’ enrolments, equipment and facilities that were available. Qualitative data were analyzed thematically as themes and sub themes emerged from the data, while quantitative data were analyzed by the use of descriptive statistics in form of percentages and frequencies. The findings were that the introduction of the Free Basic Education Policy resulted into the abolishment of fees and left the schools to depend largely on government funding. However, budgetary allocation to schools was very meager and remittance of funds was very erratic. Furthermore, there was increased access to education as demonstrated by increased enrolment figures from 62810 in 2002 to 91937 in 2011. These increased enrolment figures were mainly attributed to the introduction of the Free Basic Education Policy. The increased enrolment figures in basic schools in Solwezi may also be attributed to increase in-migrants into the district due to the mining industry. Additionally, the introduction of free basic education resulted into other challenges in education delivery. The challenges included: high enrolment levels, inadequate educational supplies, low staffing levels, inadequate classrooms and desks, and dilapidated infrastructure. The teachers were demotivated due inadequate staff accommodation, low housing allowances to rent decent houses, teachers were being overworked, and were unable to attend to individual needs of pupils, and they assigned inadequate home work and remedial work due to large classes and big volumes of books to mark. Consequently, the central government had failed to meet the needs of schools to satisfy the surge enrolments. The quality delivery of education had been compromised. The literacy levels had gone down and the majority of pupils proceeded from one grade to the other unable to read and write. In order to overcome these challenges, and deliver quality education, the study recommends that there is need to increase funding, expand existing schools, build more schools, employ more teachers, supply enough desks, educational materials and provide enough free materials like exercise books. Furthermore, the study recommends that the government should improve staff retention through improved conditions of service.
Educational--Administrtaion--basic schools--Zambia , Educational--planning--basic schools--Zambia