Promotion of Social Justice and Concerns for the Poor
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Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are vital for dignity of human life. These rights are incorporated into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) to which Zambia is committed by its constitution. Education, as one of these rights, is not only essential for nurturing personal and intellectual character but also for the country as a whole, in developing its political, social and economic landscape. Ultimately a well-educated population can only make Zambia a more prosperous country. In order to promote social justice - in this case the access to quality education for all - JCTR applies the Church Social Teaching (CST). This is a framework of social wisdom which guides us on how to live out our faith according to the word of God. From a Church Social Teaching perspective, education is key to the promotion of the fullness of life, both in terms of encouraging participation in wider society and creating solidarity amongst people. Extending education to some of the poorest in Zambia, is a demonstration of a commitment to an additional CST principle: ‘options for the poor and vulnerable’; a group of people that is often overlooked and unspoken for in relation to educational opportunities. Education in Zambia has gone through a number of significant legal and institutional reforms since independence in 1964. The main objectives were to develop an education system that belonged to and was relevant to Zambia. This was the start of National Development Plans in relation to education. Some of the elementary reforms included revising the structure of education, increasing enrolment, expanding facilities and providing more comprehensive training of teachers. Undoubtedly these have been ongoing reforms and there has been continual pressure for Zambia to adapt to the changing educational needs of its people. With the 2030 vision to become “a prosperous middle income Nation”, the onset of the 21st century committed to achieving both old and new targets by 2015. According to a report on Millennium Development Goals (2008), the MDG (2) to have Universal Primary Education, was one of the most likely targets to be met, conceivably on account of having one of the strongest national support systems. In addition to commitment from government policy, there has been a number of sub-policies and programmes and cooperation from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs) and community based organisations (CBOs). This has undoubtedly helped to bolster the provision of education throughout the country. Whilst there has been considerable improvement in areas across the board- and this brief will highlight and commend this where possible- undoubtedly there is still work to be done. Most notably, ‘Education for All’ in Zambia has still not been fully realised, leaving a percentage of children and adult learners deprived of a basic human right. This policy paper mainly draws on the JCTR’s findings from surveys taken in Mongu, Monze, Kasama and Kabwe, as well as other National reports taken from Ministry of Education and Millennium Development goals. It briefly aims to explain the current situation of education in Zambia and its on-going development and challenges, as well as offer appropriate recommendations to help unlock Zambia’s education potential. It is worth noting that this paper is predominantly focused around the urban picture. This being the case, where issues have been resolved in urban areas, it is likely that they remain a major hurdle for rural areas. Likewise, the challenges that urban areas continue to face are presumably exacerbated in rural areas, on account of more severe poverty levels. Henceforth, education in rural areas can only be properly addressed alongside rural development. Of course urban areas are one step ahead of this and so naturally some of the challenges and recommendations in this paper are more sensitive to this context. recommendations to help unlock Zambia’s education potential. It is worth noting that this paper is predominantly focused around the urban picture. This being the case, where issues have been resolved in urban areas, it is likely that they remain a major hurdle for rural areas. Likewise, the challenges that urban areas continue to face are presumably exacerbated in rural areas, on account of more severe poverty levels. Henceforth, education in rural areas can only be properly addressed alongside rural development. Of course urban areas are one step ahead of this and so naturally some of the challenges and recommendations in this paper are more sensitive to this context. It is hoped that policy makers and duty bearers will understand the importance of accessible and quality education for all through a Human Rights lens and hence endeavour to do all that is possible to promote, implement and monitor necessary reforms. It is hoped that policy makers and duty bearers will understand the importance of accessible and quality education for all through a Human Rights lens and hence endeavour to do all that is possible to promote, implement and monitor necessary reforms.
CitationAllsopp, C. (2017?). Promotion of Social Justice and Concerns for the Poor: Policy Brief on: Accessible and Quality Education for All
JESUIT CENTRE FOR THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
Undoubtedly education is a high priority issue for Zambia. Through education Zambia can become a stronger, more successful and cohesive country. Not only does education address basic needs, such as the eradication of illiteracy but it also serves other valuable purposes. It is evident, that education is an indispensable tool for engaging in politics at any level- local/national, amateur/professional. For example, the possession of knowledge of basic rights and skills associated with political engagement can be vital for realising and maintaining such. This is ever more pressing for the more marginalised in society. Furthermore, the learning and development of life skills are crucial for every-day functioning. In terms of Zambia’s specific needs, education is key in areas such as agriculture or agribusiness, health issues such as Malaria and HIV/AIDS as well as healthy living and nutrition. Also those advancing in both vocational and academic expertise are valuable human capital within the national and international market. With regards to ‘Access to Education’, lack of finances is a major barrier to education at different stages, whether it’s initial access to the institution or cost of required resources for learning across an individual’s education span. Those who are living on the poverty line simply cannot afford the maintenance. Furthermore, poverty levels are also associated with poor health and sanitation, which are also factors likely to inhibit people from being able to fully access education. Despite efforts to eradicate this barrier to education, Zambia is still off its national target of 100% basic education (early childhood- Grade 9) for all. This being the case, it is important to understand the more nuanced factors that prevent or obstruct access to education and subsequently recommend measures to appease these problems. The second issue to be considered is ‘Quality of Education’. Notably this aspect has not been as fully developed and implemented in comparison to access. Whilst it seems logical that access to education is a first priority, it is vital that quality of education accompanies this; ultimately, the two should not be separate but rather develop simultaneously, i.e. opening and maintaining high quality educational institutional facilities throughout Zambia.
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