The Influence Of The Quality Of Education On Literacy



On developing the literary arts in Zambia-with a focus on fiction writing.



I wish to open the discussion by applauding the gallant men and women who, under very difficult circumstances stand on the frontlines of the education system to deliver to as many as possible the much needed education. Zambia is to a very large extent an academic nation whose job market still depends on qualified people. Until the non-formal sector opens more, the demand for education will keep going high. But the outstanding question is, are these efforts by  teachers enough to improve the literacy levels of Zambians, whether they live in the urban or rural areas. As at the 2010 Population and Housing census conducted by the Central Statistical Office, the population of Zambia stood at 13, 092,666 with 7, 919, 216 people living in urban areas while 5, 173, 450 live in the rural areas. If 70% of the population is literate, what does it really mean in terms of real numbers and also in terms of distribution along the line of rail and in outlying districts? In trying to mitigate the demand, a number of primary and secondary school have been constructed, but are they enough to meet the need? Having said that, let us critically think about the quality of education.

The typical picture in many public schools is an over-sized class. Even though a lot of schools have been constructed, the pupil teacher ratios still remain high and these compromises on service delivery. The high percentage of pupils who enter and exit classrooms without learning much cannot be underestimated as one single teacher can only teach so many. If there is to be effective teaching to improve literacy, the ratio of pupils to one teacher needs to be brought down to manageable sizes otherwise, only those privileged to go to elite schools will benefit. Talking about elite schools, that can afford to provide adequate learning and teaching materials especially reading books, the story of many public schools, both in urban and rural areas proves to be different. Shortages of text books seem to be the order of the day what more reading books that are supposed to be used to develop the literacy skills of children. Today the nation is crying about how children who reach the university are not able to articulate themselves properly; a graduate with a degree cannot read or let alone write an article for a newspaper. Many of these young people have fallen victim to the poor quality of education that they were exposed to. Therefore, in order for us to have breakthroughs in literacy, there is much more that needs to be done to improve the quality of education in Zambia. It raises concerns when it is reported that even from the beginning of the education journey, standards are compromised. It is well known that early childhood education and development play a key role in shaping the education path of a child and yet only 30% of the over 500,000 children entering Grade one have access to early childhood learning opportunities. What are the chances of the rest to redeem themselves when they enter a scenario where they have to compete for space in a classroom and reading materials?

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