Columnists Features

Politicians should also emphasise right to education

Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
DURING this campaign period, as political candidates at various levels are canvassing for votes in different parts of the country, messages to the electorate are varied. The focus among all these, however, is the development of Zambia, our cherished motherland.
It is encouraging that some politicians have placed provision of quality education at the top of their agenda. Actually, such individuals do realise that development truly begins with education. And, no doubt, they know that all individuals – including those who will not vote for them as well as those who have not yet attained the voting age – have the right to education.
Besides the fact that education helps to improve one’s social and economic status, it also enables people to achieve a level of civilisation that, in turn, makes them fit in with every other person in a society where peace, love, unity, harmony and tolerance, among other norms, must exist for a greater, common good – continuous improvement of communities and people’s livelihoods.
It is this true education, given to us by God, our Creator, which should make us aware, and always remind us of our ‘unity in diversity’ as we live as one (and as a Christian nation), regardless of differences in terms of age, language, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation and socio-economic status, among others.
It is also this kind of civilisation that should remind us that violence and other vices aimed at harming fellow human beings can only be carried out by the ‘uneducated’. It is only the educated (positively empowered in all areas of human endeavour) who can honourably make use of all resources that God has placed under their care. And attaining real socio-economic development calls for an exhibition of high moral standards among citizens.
So, it should be borne in the minds of our leaders that, as they aspire to oversee the affairs of the land, high illiteracy levels among citizens can actually reverse the gains that a nation achieves in its development process. Just how they intend to continuously improve the quality of education, how they plan to motivate teachers and, generally, what measures they will put in place to ensure they uphold the right to education for all, from pre-school to tertiary level, are issues that they should clearly put across to the voters.
Convince the electorate that their right to education, as advocated by various stakeholders, including educationists, rights bodies, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders, will be sustained and fulfilled.
Politicians should assure citizens that this human right will truly offer them and their children access to quality schools and to an education that is directed towards the complete development of the human personality and potential.
It should be clear that everyone, including young people, must have equal access to quality education adapted to meet one’s needs. It is that education which must prepare learners to effectively participate in society and to do work that is rewarding, and spur them to continue learning as long as they live. And with political will, leaders must be ready to prudently and equitably distribute the necessary resources in the system.
Citizens will claim the right to education, both for themselves and their children, based on the premise that their government has a duty to ensure that their human right to acquire knowledge will be exercised without discrimination, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, tribe, property, birth or any other status.
The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “Everyone has the right to education… Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms…” (Article 26:1,2). Indeed, it is through learning, teaching and education in general that respect for other rights and freedoms can be fully promoted.
So, as they ‘preach’ that they will build more schools for the citizenry throughout the country, political leaders must go a step further by sensitising the people that the right to education is guaranteed legally for all; and show us ways through which we shall hold the government accountable for any violation or deprivation of this important right.
We should always desire to be an educated nation. It is important that we all pull in one direction towards human, social and economic development. The right to education is fundamental in ensuring lasting peace and sustainable development.

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