KELVIN MBEWE, Solwezi
AN UNKNOWN scholar once said, “Every human being needs oxygen to survive in the world. Education is as important, as this gives people the knowledge and skills they require to stay alive.”
Many people are jobless because they lack the knowledge and skills that employers are looking for.
The Ministry of General Education is taking steps to ensure that education is readily available so that all learners are empowered with the much needed knowledge required for one to be employable or to have a skill to live on.
To do this, Government has embarked on the construction of schools and rehabilitation of school infrastructure countrywide.
Minister of General Education Dennis Wanchinga says 220 schools countywide are being upgraded from primary to secondary level. This project is targeting 20 schools in each province.
“The upgraded schools need laboratories for technical education as well as workshops. These are an integral part of a functional secondary school, in the absence of this infrastructure, secondary education cannot be offered to the required standards,” Dr Wanchinga said.
The Ministry of General Education is also building new schools to meet the increasing demand for education.
“By the end of 2016 a total of 62 schools had been completed from the 115 schools that were under construction. The schools have created a total of 33,480 learning spaces,” he said.
Dr Wanchinga recently visited Copperbelt and North-Western provinces to check the progress made in the construction of new schools. The minister was also meeting teachers to discuss various issues affecting the education sector.
He was accompanied by government officials, among them North-Western provincial education officer Steven Chishiko and Ministry of General Education public relations officer Nondo Chilonga.
The tour started in Chingola where Dr Wanchinga visited Nchanga Secondary School which was upgraded from primary to secondary school in 2014. He commissioned three new classrooms and one staff house, all built at the cost of K453, 000.
Dr Wanchinga was impressed with the quality of the newly built structures.
The new classroom block is being used as a science laboratory.
The next stop was Fitobaila Secondary School in Fitobaula village of Chitambi ward, Chililabombwe district. The learning institute was previously a primary school until 2012 when it was upgraded to secondary level.
Here the Ministry of General Education has built a three-room classroom block as well as a teacher’s house, all worth about K450, 000.
According to the school head teacher, Matildah Chisala, the three new classrooms have made it possible for Fitobaula to accommodate more pupils.
“Our pupils do not have to walk over five kilometers to access secondary education in Chingola. The upgrade of Fitobaula Secondary School has come at a right time.
“The new infrastructure will make teaching and learning much easier because previously our pupils were learning under trees, in churches and makeshift infrastructures due to lack of classroom space”, Ms Chisala said.
The entourage then proceeded to Chililabobwe district where Dr Wanchinga commissioned yet another three-room classroom block and a teacher’s house at Kamenza Secondary School.
The classroom block cost K304, 962, while K144, 520 was spent on the staff house.
Kamenza Secondary School head teacher Lucy Tonga said the school has over enrolled due to limited classroom space against droves of interested learners.
“With the newly built 1×3 classroom block, we will be able to decongest some classes so that our pupils can learn in a conducive environment. We are very thankful minister for prioritising the needs of Kamenza Secondary School. We can assure you that we are going to take care of this infrastructure,” she said.
The next stop was Kabisapi Secondary School in the newly established Mushindamo district in North-Western Province.
Similarly, the minister officially opened a block of three classrooms at the school.
Dr Wanchinga then moved to Mufumbwe Boarding Secondary School in Mufumbwe district, Mutanda Basic School in Kalumbila district, and Solwezi Secondary School among others.
The minister had one message for the teachers in all the schools that he visited.
He thanked them for working hard in ensuring that pupils are well educated despite working under ‘pressure’.
But on the Copperbelt, Dr Wanchinga challenged teachers to up their input and improve education standards in the province.
He observed that the pupils’ performance on the Copperbelt was not as good as desired despite the region being privileged with the needed educational resources compared to other provinces.