Fifty Years of Independence – End of a Sequel (Recapitulation)

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By Elarm Chalusa

The sequel covered a range of topics including literacy, gender parity index, sector contributions to GDP, completion rates/progression between various education levels, health issues, life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality and many others a summary of which is provided below.

  • Fifty years down the road in post independence Zambia, our literacy level stands at only 61.4%.
  • The gender parity index (GPI) for Zambia stands at 0.91 indicating gross gender inequalities in both rural and urban areas although urban areas showed more equality.
  • Primary school enrollment as at 2012 was 97.9% according to World Development Indicators, July 2014 [1]

As at 2010, for individuals over the age of 25 years, the completion rates for each level of education, excluding pre-school was as follows:

o   Primary = 47.8%

o   Secondary = 37.3%

o   Tertiary = 14.5%

That’s a harsh reality isn’t it? Thus:

o    For every 1000 children enrolled at primary school, over 520 failed to complete school their primary education.

o   For every 1000 pupils admitted to secondary school, excess of 620 did not complete their secondary education.

o    For every 1000 students admitted to tertiary institutions, over 850 did not graduate.

  • Recommendations being:

o   Reduce the duration of primary education from 7 to 6 years.

o   Make basic education (up to grade 9) free regardless of whether a child passes grade 7 exams.

o   Reduce the duration of the secondary education from 5 to 4 years.

o   Reduce the number of subjects each senior secondary student can take from 8 to 7.

o

  • While the teacher training quota receives the largest proportion of tertiary training, the number is not enough to reduce the teacher student ratio.
  • The field of medical sciences needs prioritizing to boost offset the dismal doctor density rate of 7 per 100,000.
  • Our enrollment in all other sectors at major universities should reflect a national strategy to obtain required numbers of expertise if we are to produce enough engineers and other essential skills needed for robust national development.
  • The agro and fisheries sectors which employ the bulk of our labor force (66.7% ) [3] need to be made economically viable to increase more revenue as well as provide employees modest economic prowess – departure from peasantry.
  • The rate of proliferation of high institutions of learning is has not been able to cope with the demand.  Let us exploit further the available technology to afford education to as many as may need though online and distance learning.  Let us produce an overly educated population. How about that?
  • As it is, even if all candidates sitting for primary leaving exams in Grade 7, or Junior Secondary education at Grade 9 and School Leaving Exams at Grade 12 were to pass the exams, there are not nearly as half the places available to absorb them at subsequent higher levels of education. It follows that; by default, we are prepared to have a certain fraction as failures even as we enroll them in grade 1.  What should we do then, after 50 Years?

It means that the expedient solution is to expand the number of:

o   Secondary schools to absorb all leaving primary schools.

o   Senior secondary schools to absorb all those leaving basic (junior) schools.

o   Tertiary institutions (colleges and universities) to absorb ALL those attaining full school certificates at grade 12.

  • Let us take a leaf from Malaysia (that produces 50,000 engineers per year [4] and provides 11 years of free basic education [5]) and Singapore [6] who took seriously the human resource to turn their economies around.
  • Improve access to electricity from the current 25% to 100%.
  • Provide access to safe drinking water and modest sanitation and waste disposal to 100% of the population.
  • It is possible to increase our life expectancy, reduce infant and maternal mortality rates and deaths resulting form HIV/AIDS significantly as well as improve the nation’s ability to handle challenges posed by major infectious disease cited above.  By the way, how on earth did we find ourselves having 2 hospital beds to cater for a 1000? And seven doctors per 100,000 Zambians? – After 50 years after independence?
  • After 50 years of independence and peace time, is it justifiable to have any fraction of the population in extreme poverty. Our nation should no longer be described as an impoverished southern African country.

 

[1] http://knoema.com/atlas/Zambia/Net-enrollment-rate-primary

[2] http://knoema.com/atlas/Zambia/Net-enrollment-rate-primary

[3] Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report 2006-2010 p33

[4] Arend, M.(nd). How Did Malaysia Do That?

[5] Malaysia: An economy Transformed. p66 Retrieved on 19/08/2014 at www.dfat.gov.au/eau

[6] History of Singapore’s Economic Development. Retrieved on 19/08/204 at http://geography.about.com/od/economic-geography/a/Singapore-Economic-Development.htm

 

By

Elarm Chalusa

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4 COMMENTS

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