—Government will recruit 1,000 pre-school teachers before the end of this year.
And government will, from next year, start converting selected and strategically located basic schools to secondary schools.
Education Science Vocational Training and Early Education Minister, John Phiri, disclosed this in Mpika on Friday when he visited Kabale Secondary School during his tour of selected schools in the district.
Dr Phiri said the government has planned to recruit a total of 1,000 pre-school teachers before the end of this year to guarantee effective teaching of children in pre-schools.
Dr Phiri, who was accompanied by the Provincial Education Officer, Jobbicks Kalumba, said government attaches great importance to the preparation of a child who is preparing to enter Grade 1.
He said in the past pre-schools were exclusively for those who could afford to pay for their children to learn how to read and write, especially in towns and big cities along the line of rail.
Dr Phiri said under the Patriotic Front (PF) government, no child should be denied a chance of passing through a pre-school before starting Grade 1.
The minister observed that a pre-school is supposed to be a place availing children an opportunity to play under a watchful eye of an adult, adding that such facilities should be dotted around in surrounding communities.
“All Grade 1 pupils should have passed through a pre-school so that they are not alien to paper and pencil,” said Dr Phiri.
Dr Phiri, who visited one pre-school class at Kabale, said he was happy that the provincial and district education offices in the area had gone ahead to establish pre-schools in the area in accordance with the PF manifesto.
And government has announced that from next year, selected and strategically located basic schools in the country will be converted into secondary schools.
Education Minister, John Phiri, said that government has decided to do this to increase the number of classrooms at secondary school level as it slowly phases out basic schools.
Dr Phiri said the conversion of selected and strategically located basic schools into secondary schools does not mean that the government has abandoned the other idea of constructing new structures but that this will be done simultaneously.
He said construction of one secondary school to carter for about 600 pupils costs between KR 41 million and KR51 million and that they are currently 35 of such infrastructures under construction in the country.
The minister said as government continues with such projects, it will also go ahead to convert some basic schools into secondary schools to increase the number of children accessing secondary education.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr. Phiri has applauded the community and school administration at Malambwa Secondary School in Mpika for embarking on an initiative to construct two 1 x 4 classroom blocks using local resources.
DrPhiri, who visited the structures under construction, said he is happy with the local leadership for being sensitive to the plight of their school-going children.
“I must mention here that I am impressed with this initiative by the community and school administration of Malambwa Secondary School but this does not mean that government will not do anything to improve on the learning environment of the children. Government still remains committed to ensure that it promotes the delivery of quality education through the provision of infrastructure and staff,” said Dr Phiri.
He said the Mpika success initiative in creating more classrooms at secondary level should be replicated in other districts and provinces in the country.
Dr. Phiri also said with the removal of consumption subsidies on fuel and maize, he is hoping that his ministry will have an increased budget allocation to do various projects such as construction of more schools and upgrading of infrastructure at various learning institutions.
Earlier, School head teacher, Allan Kaoma, said the PTA at Malambwa Secondary School has so far spent KR 72,000 on the two projects which are currently at roof level.
Mr Kaoma said with funds available, the structures will be ready for use by January, 2014.
“Our plan, honourable minister, is that come next year January, we should be able to relocate to this new site here and leave room for the primary section at Malambwa where we are currently squatting,” said Mr Kaoma.
And Mpika District Education Board Secretary (DEBS), Christopher Sinkamba, assured the minister that transformation of basic schools to secondary schools is possible.
Mr Sinkamba said his office has made progress in transforming some selected and strategically located basic schools in the district.