Panos urges Govt to ensure school bursaries reach intended beneficiaries
Lusaka, 27th January 2022. Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) commends government for allocating over K800 million in the 2022 national budget towards the boarding school bursaries for vulnerable children across the country and urges the Ministry of Finance to ensure the funds reach the targeted beneficiaries. We are pleased to note that out of this amount, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane has already disbursed K198 million for the first term.
If well executed, interventions like this will go a long way towards the realization of children’s right to education. We believe that this action will provide the vulnerable children with a chance to go to school, enhancing their opportunities to a better future and positioning them to contribute positively to the country’s development and poverty alleviation efforts. While the allocation of funds is a giant step forward, the objectives of the government support will only be achievable with a mechanism that ensures efficiency, accountability, and access by the deserving vulnerable children.
In the more than 20 years our organisation has been advocating for social security and protection of the vulnerable communities across Southern Africa, we understand that education is one of the most important drivers of sustainable growth and change for any nation. It is for this reason that we have continued to work on various interventions aimed at promoting children’s rights to education and ensuring that there’s accountability on the part of leaders in delivering those rights. In our advocacy efforts, we have also been working with the government and other stakeholders in ensuring that the education sector receives significant consideration in the country’s development agenda.
We are delighted to note that the first ever disbursement of the funds towards the first term secondary school boarding fees and skills development bursary scheme and the subsequent announcement by President Hakainde Hichilema that the budgetary allocation under the bursary scheme this year would benefit more than 165,000 beneficiaries came barely a day after the country commemorated the International Day of Education which fell on 24th January under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education”. Such a pronouncement from the highest office in the land is inspiring and it gives confidence to the people of Zambia who have entrusted the UPND leaders with a mandate to manage the affairs of the country.
Further, we call upon the government to put in place measures for the Ward Development Committees who shall be responsible for selecting beneficiaries of the scheme and the school authorities see to it that these bursaries and fees reach the intended beneficiaries. The introduction of such government sponsorship programmes will not serve any purpose if the intended beneficiaries do not benefit from them.
We urge the government to put in place and publicise measures for monitoring and tracking the disbursement and accountability in the utilization of the bursary funds.
We also call upon all stakeholders working with vulnerable children and citizens to actively participate in the implementation of this programme by fostering accountability. Through our Save the Children supported Driving Sustainable Change for Children’s Rights (DSCCR) project, we are currently working with various stakeholders to ensure that the best interests of children prevail in the implementation of the CDF and other government developmental initiatives. We are confident that this bursary programme will enable many children realize their right to education and a better future, and will help build a better Zambia for generations to come.
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa