Seventeen local and Africa based civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) governments to scale up investment towards education, enhance support for early child development (ECD) and education.
They further called for recruitment of more teachers, promotion of sexual health rights among the learners and increased digital learning.
The organisations include National Action for Quality Education in Zambia, Malawi’s Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec), Senegal based Africa Network Campaign on Education for All and Network of Early Childhood Development of Lesotho.
The demands are inserted in the CSOs’ position paper which was presented to the Sadc Ministers of Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation whose meeting ended on Friday in Lilongwe.
The CSOs observed that funding for education as a share of national income has “not changed significantly over the last decade for countries in the region”.
The paper reads in part: “While some countries have attained the 20 percent of the annual budget and 6 percent of the Growth Domestic Product [GDP] allocated to education, some countries continue to straddle behind this target.
“Member States should mobilise more resources towards education. Increase fiscal space for spending on education. We implore governments to adhere to the 15-20 percent of the national budget or 4-6 percent of their countries’ GDP allocation to education.”
The CSOs said there was little investment in the ECD sector observing that it was not even part of the agenda of the education ministers meeting.
“Ownership of most ECD is in private hands with very few governments controlled [14.4 percent] despite member States being the custodians resulting in low ECD funding averaging 1.57 percent of the education budgets regionally with more than 70 percent of the budgets go towards salaries of staff with little left for infrastructure,” the paper points out.
The CSOs noted that the teacher to pupil ratio is high in most Sadc nations; hence, the need to recruit more teachers and make teaching a more attractive career to persuade high achieving graduates.
Csec, whose executive director Benedicto Kondowe, convened a press conference on Thursday, a day before the Sadc ministers’ crunch talks, acknowledged the need for increased investments in education, training; as well as in science, technology and innovation systems in Sadc member States.
Speaking during the opening of the joint Sadc ministers’ meeting in Lilongwe on Friday, Minister of Education Agnes Nyalonje acknowledged that the Sadc region’s education sector is hampered by lack of resources.
“We have the skills and people to improve education, training, science, technology and innovation; but what we do not have in adequate amounts in this region and in Africa, are resources,” she said.
Nyalonje also highlighted the need to educate youths through provision of digital education among other methods to ensure they are more productive