The paper will attempt to critically analyze the educational developments that took place between 1964 and 2012 and then it will look at what were the milestones of Zambia’s educational development during this period and later give a conclusion. It will begin by defining the key concepts such as milestones, education and development and brief educational background. The concept milestone refers to a very important or significant stage or event in the development of something (Hornby, 2000). Kelly (1999:2) defines the concept education as, “an organized and sustained communication process designed to bring about learning”.
It is important to note that education occurs in three different forms such as formal education, non formal education and informal education. Todaro and Smith (2003:51) defines development as “a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes, and national institutions, as well as acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality, and the eradication of poverty”. At the time of independence, Zambia's modernization process was far from complete and it was realized that it had only 109 university graduates and 1000 school levers.
The nation's educational system was one of the most poorly developed in all of Britain's former colonies. For this reason, Zambia had to invest heavily in education at all levels such as early childhood, primary, basic education, high school and tertiary education. This was important in order to increase the educated population and development of human resource or manpower in the nation. This led to a number of educational developments in the country since the onset of independence.
In the early 1960s the government established a policy where all children, irrespective of their parent’s financial capacity to pay, were given free exercise books, pencils and pens but left the parents with the major responsibility to buy uniforms, pay the children’s school fees and ensure that they attended school (Kelly & Kanyika, 2000). This initiative by the government was not effective to meet their educational goals in the sense that it disadvantaged those children whose parents could not afford to buy uniforms and pay school fees only those from rich families were able to get the best and complete education.
The number of uneducated children still increased in population. In the same period the universities, colleges and technical schools were established in the country. For example, in 1966 the University of Zambia was established in Lusaka as the main campus in the country. It is important to note that not every school lever had an opportunity to enter tertiary education due to high entry requirements and this limited a majority of people attaining education (Kelly, 1999).
Among these developments it also included the incorporation of the federal school system, the elimination of racial segregation in the schools, further; there was a progressive abolition of fees in secondary schools, introduction of uniforms for primary and secondary schools and introduction of the English medium scheme (Kelly, 1999). In addition, there was also development in the formal school education for adults by correspondence, evening classes and the establishment of educational radio and television programmes.
In the 1966 the first National Development Plan was established which aimed at improving or increasing access of the educational system in order to increase manpower and that by 1970 every child should be able to have at least primary education (MOE, 1999). This goal was not mate because they did not employ the proper strategies and that they were shortage of trained human resource in the country. The government was supposed to develop manpower instead of being over ambitious; as the saying goes failure to plan is planning to fail. This resulted into a situation where the government recruiting teachers or manpower from overseas.
This led the government to make changes in the education systems in the 1970s and these changes are called the Education Reforms. These are large scale educational changes in terms of content, structure, practice, methods, and organization of the education system. The focus was on extensive effort to reform and reorganize existing educational structures and to modernize teaching content and methods (Kelly, 1999). This transformation of the education system had an emphasis on schooling as means of learning. This is because the reforms were influenced indirectly by the former colonial country concept of education.
This means that colonialism was being administered indirectly through the schooling in the education system. In addition, again the government was over ambitious such that there was inadequate teacher participation and the plan exceeded financial, material and manpower (Kelly, 2000). This means that the Ministry of Education capacity was overstretched beyond limits. The reforms or 1970s educational development failed also due to the fact that the government paid little attention to economic, demographic or population growth and girl’s education.
This is because of overreliance on political slogans or unstable economic political environment at the time (Kelly, 1999). In the 1980s little educational developments that took place but included the appointment of examiners and markers by the ministry of education. This was important in that the examinations paper were set as well as marked by the Cambridge examination body and so in the 1981 there was an appointment of local examiners and markers of the examination papers for all levels in the education system (MOE, 1992). This was achieved through training of local teachers to work as markers and examiners by members from Cambridge.
This followed changes in the dates for learners to sit for examinations at various centers in the country. This was important in order to localize the education system but the markers and examiners lacked motivation like incentives in monetary form. In addition the educational development that took place in the 1980s was the formulation and preparation of the Zambia examination council and its executive committee to administer the localization of the examination (MOE,1996). In the 1990s a number of educational developments occurred.
For example, the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien marked a new start in the global quest to make Basic education Universal and eradicate illiteracy ( United Nations,2008). The focus of the governments, after the Jomtien conference, shifted towards quality aspects. The shift was necessitated by the observed decline in educational standards and learning achievement levels in Zambia. This enabled the government to establish two policy education documents the focus on learning of 1992 and the educating our future of 1996 in order to prioritize basic education to improve access and quality of education.
The objectives were implemented under the Basic Education Sub-Sector Investment Programme known as BESSIP from 1999 to 2003(MOE,1999). The strategies were not very effective and as a result the government resorted to adopt a five year sector plan which was included in the fifth national development plan in order to achieve education for all and the millennium development goals. The Education Policy document, Educating Our Future 1996, proposed a new structure of nine years of basic education, three years of high school education and four years of university education to first degree, effective 1998(MOE,1996).
This was a development in the sense that it enabled all children in Zambia to access nine years of good quality universal basic education. It was not achieved due to lack of implementation by the government. In addition, there was an introduction of local languages in the schools. This is because children in early grades learn easily in familiar Zambian local languages. 1998 there was an introduction of one year teacher training course. It resulted into production of half baked learners because of the teacher’s incompetence.
There was a development in the education of girls and women due to the introduction programme for the advancement of Girls Education Known as PAGE and the Forum for African Educationalists in Zambia known as FAWEZA (MOE, 2003). This was important reduce gender imbalances and overcome the failure of the Kaunda regime to prioritize girls education. The was also an introduction community schools and community based interactive radio programme targeting children who have never been to school and addressing issues of equity.
The interactive radio learning programme was launched in February 2000 but it does not favor those children whose parents cannot afford a radio to access education (Kelly & et. al, 1999). In addition 2002 there was an introduction of free education and later an re entry policy was established to accommodate children who drop out of school due a different reasons. The current Government has abolished the basic schools system and re-introduced the grade 1 to 7 primary and grade 8 to 12 secondary system. The milestones of Zambia’s educational development during this period were the 1990 education for all programme.
This was the significant stage in the sense that it enabled Zambian education to have a new direction. Their main focus was on the statement that every person whether child, youth and adult shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs . The World Declaration on Education for all defined a bold new direction in education. Other milestones or significant stages or event were the localization of examinations, the PAGE programme and the introduction of free education in 2002.
In conclusion, since independence there has been a number of changes in the education system in order to ensure quality education is provided to the local people and that human resource or human capital is developed. This is because education is the only tool that can used to eradicate poverty and other social ills in the developing countries. Through education the spirit of self reliance, competence and hard work is developed in the people in order to meet the everyday needs. It is an instrument for development in developing countries and developed nations.