Fifty Years of Independence – Part IV(b)

Elarm Chalusa
Elarm Chalusa

Another aspect worth considering is the contribution to the GDP by each sector.

The education sector, in spite of having the largest enrolments and contribution of 21.8% to the nation’s labour market, the sector contributed only 7.0% to the GDP as at 2010. [3] But how can the education sector improve its contribution? I offer the following:

i.            Regularly conduct audits to identify areas requiring improvement to cope with global trends. Improve the proportions of those who can conduct research on best practices at all levels of our education system. That will improve the quality of the graduates. For instance, has Zambia’s education system responded to the explosion in the information and technology fields? Where are the NEW institutions or departments taking care of this development? Have we promoted industries to attract and absorb graduates in these fields?

According to the 1996 education policy, the government of Zambia intends to abolish grade 7 exams by 2015 to pave way for universal basic education up to grade 9 [4], consider reducing the duration of primary education by 1 year and do the same for senior secondary education with regard to my proposal made in part ii of this series.

ii.            Use the existing labour force to provide education using distance learning and online programs. A lot of jobs will be created, more revenue will be generated by the sector and more Zambians will be afforded a chance to be educated.

iii.            Facilitate and promote authorship of locally produced textbooks in various subjects some of which should be exported to other nations. I invite my readers to just imagine how much forex leaves Zambia each time you purchase those CIMA, ACCA, AAT text books plus a lot others used in our secondary schools, colleges and universities.  Just carry out stock of books used at any secondary school in Zambia;  Fifty years after independence, you will find little or no books authored by Zambians.

In order to improve the manufacturing base, there is need to increase quotas for engineering faculties and computer science. Our graduates should be able to design and build equipment for us. We have imported for too long. Or are they not adequately trained? Let us import the raw materials needed to manufacture hardware for various sectors. Our national development plans should reflect these milestones. How many engineers do we envision by say 2020? How do we envision our industrial base by that time? Is this known to the youths, the young ones in schools? Have we provided enough incentives to all and sundry?

If we are to set a realistic timeframe in which to free ourselves from dependence on copper, I would offer that education would play a significant role in this drive. Rightfully so, education, along with science and technology have been cited as the prime movers of Zambia’s development [1].  (Cont’d…….Next series: Education, Technology and Economic lessons from Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and Japan)

[1] 2010 Census of Population National Analytical Report p31.

[2] Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report 2006-2010 p33.

[3] Gross Domestic Product 2010 Bench mark Estimates Summary Report p3.

[4] 2000 Census Reports, Education characteristics, p52