By SITEMBILE SIWAWA
OVER 500,000 children are currently out of school in Zambia of which 242,616 are boys and 261,094 are girls, Zambia National Education Coalition executive director Grace Manyonga (ZANEC) has said.
And ZANEC has developed an advocacy strategy to get back to school the out-of -school children which will begin in selected districts of Eastern, Luapula and Southern provinces.
Ms Manyonga attributed high levels of children out of school to increased levels of pregnancies, early marriages, and distances to school, affordability and illiteracy among parents.
Speaking in an interview, she said the glaring situation will result in direct failure by Zambia to attain the Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals of 2015 if access to basic education for vulnerable and marginalised children is not improved.
â€œThere are 435,430 out of school children of primary school age 7-13 years of which 219,522 are boys while 215,918 are girls. There are a total of 69,190 at junior secondary level aged 14-15 years of which 23,094 are boys and 46,076 are girls,â€ she said.
On the advocacy strategy, Ms Manyonga will partner with the ministries of Education and Chiefs and Traditional Affairs to supplement their efforts on the national wide campaign to curb early marriages as it is one of the factors contributing to children dropping out of school.
She added â€œthe objectives of the campaign are to reduce the number of out of school children at primary school level. To advocate for increased enrolment for of out of school children at primary school level by 2015.â€
And Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWEZA) executive director Agnes Shipanuka added that lack of support towards management of maturation to girls dropping out of school.
Ms Shipanuka urged Government to emulate the Kenyan government where they include the purchasing of sanitary towels in their national budget.
She said without access to menstrual supplies and sanitation, girls educational opportunities are marginalised.
â€œA girl who is absent from school for four days in 28 days loses 13 learning days equivalent to two weeks of learning in every school term. In an academic year (nine months) a girl loses 39 learning days equivalent to six weeks of learning time,â€ she said.
By SITEMBILE SIWAWA