A country without a well structured educational system is doomed because education is the key to any form of development in a country. Every human being whether young or adult has received some sort of education but the question is what sort of education is being talked about? There are so many educational systems. For instance there is a kind of education system which was brought by the missionaries to Africans. This kind of education system is hierarchically structured from lowest to highest levels (Pre-school to university) and there is a kind of education system for African called the indigenous education system. Although there are some similarities between the two educational systems, there are also many differences. Nevertheless, the aim of this paper is to suggest means on how one would improve the hierarchically structured educational system in the case of Zambia if he or she was to take up the role of the ministry of education or the permanent secretary.
Without any reasonable doubts, the term education has been defined by so many people in academic circles. Each of them defines the term in a different way. For instance, some scholar define education as an action exercised by the adult generation on those who are not yet ready for social life. According to UNESCO, Education is an organized and sustained communication process designed to bring about learning. Snelson (1974:1) defines education as
A condition of human survival. It is the means where by one generation transmits the wisdom, knowledge and experience which prepares the next generation for life’s duties and pleasure.
For one to embark on a project of improving the educational system in the case of Zambia , there is need for them to firstly understand what is already on the ground and basically find out what is missing or which areas needs improvements. If the author of this paper assumes the role of the ministry of education or permanent secretary in Zambia today, there are first priority things which need urgent attention in every respect.
Firstly, most schools in Zambia today have poor infrastructure from elementary level to tertiary level. At lower levels, there is even educational inequality between the rural and urban schools. The infrastructure and furniture especially for those in rural areas is extremely poor. Children are even sitting down on the ground in a grass thatched houses instead of having well established buildings and good furniture for conducive environment for learning. Being in such offices, infrastructure would be the first thing to worked on in both rural and urban schools.
Secondly, education is nothing without learning resources. The author would also work on resources for the education system. Procurement of books, maps, rulers, chalk and other learning resources would also increase.
A very straight-forward way is available to quickly and effectively improve American public schools. It is not expensive, and may even be less expensive than existing standard efforts. It involves operation of three physically separate parallel schools in a District. Attendance at specific schools would not depend on academic ability or knowledge, but on each individual student’s social compatibility. Absolutely no discrimination exists because each student has the choice available to attend any of them.
At individual pupil level, there should be more focus on individual progress than on test scores. Test scores are not the only way of seeing how much a student understands and how intelligent are they. I believe more challenging courses should be provided for increased mental stimulation because if students had more challenging work, it would force them to work harder in order to pass.
Teachers should be payed more but there should also be higher standards in order to become a teacher because teachers have very important jobs. It is up to them to encourage and teach us so that we reach the peak of our potential.
Parental involvement is necessary. It is up to parents to make sure their children understand the value of a good education. Too often parents do not stress the importance of education and no wonder their children don’t perform to the best of their abilities.
Curriculm revision would have to happen. Too often children are passed on to higher grade levels without learning the skills they need and so more time has to be dedicated towards reteaching skills that should’ve been learned.
Finally, stricter standards in order to pass to the next grade level should be set up. I believe 70% should be the lowest percentage a person could receive in order to pass and if the pupil receives grades lower than C minus in math and Language Arts, he or she should have to go to summer school until improvements are made.
There are many factors which can improve the standard of education in Zambia . Some of the factors which are thought to improve education are the, class size, books in library, teacher training, even money spent per student.
Universal primary education in Zambia is contingent on several factors, such as the existence of cost-effective schools, better curricula, and an awareness among parents, especially in rural areas, of the importance of education. However, the single most important factor in getting children to complete primary school is improving the structure of Zambia ‘s school system.
Currently, there exist many obstacles on the road to a smoothly functioning system. These include political interference, corruption, over-centralization, a lack of school autonomy, underdeveloped managerial capacity and poor information systems.
However, there are five institutional reforms that can help improve Zambia ‘s educational structure so that it can achieve the goal of universal primary education.
The first reform is the decentralization of decision-making, which improves education administration. Presently, Zambian educational system is highly centralized even though it is widely understood that basic education is better provided in a system that is administered at the district and village level.
A highly centralized system does not respond as effectively to local needs. The bureaucracy interferes with the flow of resources and information. It also means higher level administrators have less time to devote to important issues like program design, implementation, and monitoring.
This decentralization means governments must develop partnerships with communities, NGOs, and the private sector to delegate responsibility effectively in order to achieve universal primary education.
another step necessary for improving the system is greater autonomy for the schools. Currently, school principals have a limited decision-making capacity. In addition, schools do not have control over issues like curriculum, teacher appointment, discipline, and evaluation. There are virtually no opportunities for local staff development programs or resource mobilization.
By giving schools more independence, principals would have the authority to appoint personnel and determine crucial issues that affect the day-to-day affairs of schools. Principals, not upper-level bureaucrats, are in a better position to make these decisions since they deal with the daily realities of school life.
Another important reform is providing better support to, supervision of, and coordination of the school system at the district and provincial level. By making the district the key level for planning and management, state-level and central education bodies can focus more on policy-making, resource management and regulation.
One way to do this is by promoting good principals and teachers at the school level to enhance the institutional capacity of district level organizations. The lack of sufficient manpower is the most serious problem at the district and sub-district level.
Another necessary reform is to encourage decision-making be based on educational, not political, considerations. At present, politicians hand out teaching jobs as patronage appointments. Federal and provincial funds provided for education sometimes remain unused, especially in rural areas, since feudal landowners are opposed to educating “their” people.
The final necessary reform is to expand the information and research base of education in Zambia . Effective management and administration of the education system depends on the quality of the information system. Without reliable information, decision-makers cannot improve education policy and programs at the national, district and school levels.
One way of collecting reliable information about the state of education is to conduct standardized testing that measures student performance against national curriculum goals. These can be used to compare learning achievement across schools, districts and regions over time.
Snelson, P. (1974). Education Development in Northern Rhodesia 1883
Lusaka : Kenneth Kaunda Foundation