ECOZI joins the world to commemorate the Global Action Week for Education (GAWE) 2021 under the theme “Education Financing: One Billion Voices For Education”. Based on this theme, GAWE 2021 aims to mobilize public financing for education. ECOZI a Global Campaign for Education (GCE) member in Africa is leading the 2021 edition In Zimbabwe, which is being organized as a high intensity advocacy multi-layered space, in which civil society organizations in different regions demand concrete actions to stop privatization and the indebtedness of fragile states. As well as to achieve the necessary goals to predictably guarantee the funds that public education systems need; including the progressive increase of the national budgeting for early childhood education, basic education, education for youth and adults and tertiary education.
The realization of the human right to education requires multiple efforts from all sectors of society, and it is dependent on the compliance with specific obligations of governments and the international community. These state obligations must be interconnected and seek to break down the barriers imposed by discrimination, colonization and injustice, according to international human rights law and the Sustainable Development/Education 2030 Agenda. For this reason, education financing must be motivated by the construction of education systems that promote and realize human rights as a way of life. The fight for education is not limited to guaranteeing its availability and universal access, because the content of education, its governance and administration, and the challenges of teaching and learning are substantial parts of this enabling human right.
GCE affirms that one of the important lessons derived from the health crisis caused by COVID-19, is the need to turn the school into a safe space, where children can always play and learn. We have seen the new normal created by the pandemic, and the education system in Zimbabwe has been forced to adjust to the changes presented by COVID-19. It has been a strange journey and Zimbabwe has gone for a total of 9 months with schools closed as a way to stop the spread of Covid-19. During these months we have seen the widening of the gaps in our Education System as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, its partners and CSOs were fighting to ensure continuous learning during the lockdown. It is unfortunate to note that alternative learning models like radio lessons could not reach all students. Since their inception in June 2020, radio lessons have only reached a disappointing 30% of the total 3.1 Million Students in Zimbabwe. Now, this is disturbing as it insinuates that about 70% of the pupils did not have access adequate alternative learning in 9months and that is not good for the future of Zimbabwe.
Education is an important pillar for the sustainable development of any nation as such, not having access to education is against development. We therefore need to commit enough resources to education to ensure meaningful and lasting development in Zimbabwe, especially now under the threat of COVID -19 and other natural disasters.
We envisage a national budget for education that has the following four central obligations:
- Increasing the Share of budget for education,
- Increasing the Size of budget overall,
- Increasing the Sensitivity of the Education budget in order to respond to the most marginalized and;
- Increasing the Scrutiny of the Education budget, so governments are accountable to people.
Setting progressive budgeting obviously requires tax justice schemes: this would be a fundamental shift in how the private sector engages with and supports the public sector in education.
In line with the GAWE 2021 theme and the One Billion Voices For Education campaign ECOZI therefore calls for the government of Zimbabwe to:
- Increase state funding for education to 20% of public expenditure as expounded by the Dakar Declaration.
- Increase the tax base in order to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax-to-GDP ratio of 20%.
- Ensure inclusive education systems through equitable financing and programmes that prioritises the most marginalised.
- Provide free quality education for all and end the trend towards the privatization and commercialization of education.
- Improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, remuneration and continued teacher training.
- Listen and respond to the voices of those affected. Space must be allowed for individuals and civil society to speak up.
Later in May, ECOZI and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with support from various education stakeholders will host belated GAWE celebrations in Mashonaland West Province.
We call for the various Education stakeholders in Zimbabwe, including the government, the private sector, the international community, religious entities, CSOS, NGOS, philanthropists and individuals to commit to pooling resources together for education in Zimbabwe. It is our collective duty to ensure that the education sector in Zimbabwe thrives and produces a skilled citizenry that is critical for the sustainable development of our country.
The Education Coalition of Zimbabwe today renews its commitment to building inclusive, egalitarian, supportive and democratic societies, and as such the Global Action Week for Education is a mechanism that also reminds the central role of civil society, students, women, people with disabilities and teachers in the struggle for a world that leaves no one behind.