The MMD Government introduced the Free Basic Education Policy “Educating Our Future” in 2002. The policy is in line with the UN Convention for the Rights of a Child (CRC). The Education Policy emphasizes provision of quality education that is both equitable and accessible to ALL ZAMBIANS. The Education for All (EFA) Policy is one of the responses designed for expanding education services through bursaries targeting orphans and vulnerable children. It abolished user fees for Grades 1 to 7.
The Education Act, also seeks to domesticate the CRC. It provides for the child’s right to free basic education and a person’s right to early childhood care, development and education. It prohibits the contraction of any form of marriage by a learner who is a child. The Act obligates the Minister to ensure equal access to quality education to all learners including poor and vulnerable children. It prohibits the imposition of corporal punishment or degrading or inhuman treatment on a learner. Furthermore, the policy has also made the wearing of uniforms to class optional and directed that no child should be turned away from school on account of failure to pay the Parents-Teachers’ Association (PTA) fees.
The Green Party in Government will honour the spirit of the Education Policy, Education Act and CRC as relates to education for all. Nonetheless, the Green Party believes there is nothing in the world called FREE EDUCATION. We believe that someone somewhere pays for it directly or indirectly. It is aided by government through tax payers or debt contraction or indeed parents, guardians or well-wishers. In this regard, the Green Party Education Policy refers to government-aided education as FEE-FREE EDUCATION.
The Green Party Shadow Medium Term Framework for 2014-2017 has evaluated, and provides budget estimates for the entire education system of Zambia (from kindergarten to post-graduate level), both private and State, local and abroad. The Framework provides for an eligible studentship of approximately 66.2% of the total population (i.e. 9.9 million) learners aged between 1-24 years. Of the total population, approximately 45% (6.7 million) are eligible to be in nursery, pre-school and primary school; 11.7% (1.76 million) are eligible to be in secondary school; and 9.1% (1.4 million) are eligible to undertake tertiary education.
For the 2015 Budget Year, the budget-line for tuition only, for pupils that are in nursery, pre-school, and primary school at K1, 000 per pupil per term is a K20.1 billion. For secondary school students, the budget-line is K2,000 per student per term students is K3.52 billion. For universities capacity approximated at 40,000) and average tuition and board at K18,000 per student per year, the budget-line is K720 million. The average cost for students in colleges is approximately K3, 000 per student per term. The budget-line for college students is K12.24Billion.
The total budget to provide bursary for Fee-Free Education is K36.58Billion.
The PF Government 2015 Budget is K46.7Billion of which K9.43Billion has been appropriated towards entire education sector. The component that has been appropriated for bursary is only K200million or 2.1% of the education budget.
For the PF Government to provide Fee-Free Education from the 2015 Budget, this would entail spending K45.91Billion or 98% of the entire budget on the education sector alone. These statistics show that it is practically not possible for the PF Government to finance the Fee-Free Education from the existing revenue streams.
Moving forward, the Green Party has earmarked other revenue streams besides the status quo. If we form Government, we anticipate generating US$15Billion from export of medicinal marijuana. Like is the case with other states elsewhere in the world that have legalized medicinal marijuana, 50% of revenue generated from marijuana exports will go towards the education and health sectors. With this threshold of revenue in hand, the Green Party is therefore confident of providing FEE-FREE EDUCATION in Zambia if we formed Government.