While huge chunks of money is spent on workshops at HQ,, the intended beneficiaries learn in inhuman conditions. Picture courtesy of Zambian open schools
The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC), has urged government to make sure that money meant for the education sector in the 20101 is actually released.
ZANEC vice Chairperson Hillary Chipango in an analysis of the 2010 budget said that the budget should also be made in a way that it addresses the real needs of the sector.
In the analysis submitted to the Parliamentary Expanded Committee on Estimates for the 2010 Financial, Chipango said that there has been an allocation of K1, 150,000,000 for infrastructure development at Ministry of Education Headquarters in the 2010 budget and that the same amount was allocated last year, and a further K2bn in 2007.
Chipango wondered what infrastructure development programmes are going on at headquarters saying the same are not reflected in the 2008 Education Sector infrastructural development plan (which also includes rehabilitation works).
Chipango said the funds under this budget line are better allocated towards infrastructure development for Nkhrumah to expedite the transformation of the college into a university.
The analysis as subimtted by ZANEC the Expanded Committee on Estimates for the 2010 Financial Year is reproduced word for word below:
ZANEC ANALYSIS OF THE 2010 BUDGET
Submitted to the Expanded Committee on Estimates for the 2010 Financial Year
19th October, 2010
We would like thank the committee for the invitation to make comments on the 2010 budget. Our comments are based on our observations made from the Yellow Book in relation to proposed allocations for the Ministry of Education. It must be noted, however, that it has been a challenge to come up with a thorough and comprehensive analysis due to time constraints.
Firstly, we would like to start by commending government for the increased allocation to the education sector from 17.2% last year to 19.9% in the 2010 budget. This brings the allocation close to the minimum of 20% recommended for the education sector. Nevertheless, there is need for government to aim higher than barely attaining the minimum recommended owing to the stagnation that had characterized the education sector prior to the recent developments. The committee may wish to know that other countries allocate as much as 30 % towards education due to the importance attached to the sector. The performance indicators in the sector point to the need for continued heavy investment in our education sector in Zambia.
ZANEC OBSERVATIONS ON THE 2010 BUDGET
From the 2010 budget speech presented by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, the following are some of our observations and recommendations;-
There has been an increased allocation to the education sector from K 2,628 bn in 2009 to K3,320.9bn in 2010 ; This represents a growth rate of around 26% in nominal terms. Despite this commendable increment, there is need to ensure that approved allocations are actually released and that the budget is made in such a way that it addresses the real needs of the sector.
It is good to note that infrastructure development continues to be a priority programme for the education sector although the allocation has reduced from K577.9 in last year’s budget to K553.5. The non-release on of K61.4billion from domestic resources for infrastructure development in this year’s budget may in turn result in non-completion of projects due to onset of rains in the current quarter.
Under the same infrastructure development programme, we note that the allocation for an Early Childhood Care Education and Development (ECCED) model centre has been done away with. The Committee may wish to follow up on what progress has been made arising from the
allocations of K500,000,000 for the centre in 2008 and 2009. Our understanding is that this centre is non-existent.
In the same vein, the allocation for ECCED policy development and management has reduced from K295m to K195 m. We would have expected very minimal allocations in this regard as the policy is now in its final stages, having gone through extensive consultative processes and several revisions, and now just awaiting adoption.
Government acknowledges the role played by community schools in improving access to education. However, the quantitative gains made in this regard are eroded by the quality of education being offered in our schools. It is a well known fact that community schools have had a challenge of being run by unqualified teachers. It is therefore of concern that the 2010 budget has not put provisions for recruitment of more teachers that would, hopefully, have benefitted community schools. Of greater concern is that very few community schools receive their financial entitlements from allocations given to district board offices.
There has been an allocation of K1, 150,000,000 for infrastructure development at Ministry of Education Headquarters in the 2010 budget. The same amount was allocated last year, and a further K2bn in 2007. It is not clear what infrastructure development programmes are going on at headquarters as these are not reflected in the 2008 Education Sector infrastructural development plan (which also includes rehabilitation works). The funds under this budget line are better allocated towards infrastructure development for Nkhrumah to expedite the transformation of the college into a university.
The allocation to support Orphans and Vulnerable children has increased from K6.4bn to K7.4bn. These funds have been allocated under Ministry of Education headquarters. We would recommend that these funds are disbursed to districts, who in turn would administer the funds to schools where needy children would be identified. The same goes for School Health Nutrition funds where an allocation of K5bn has been made. These funds could be disbursed along with grants to schools. We are of the view that with clear guidelines and monitoring, this would ease the transmission and usage of funds by intended beneficiaries.
While the amount for student loan and bursary award has remained static for the University of Zambia, increments of K500,000,000 and K1bn have been allocated towards the Copperbelt University and for students studying abroad respectively. This year, there were media reports of about 700 students at UNZA having been deregistered on account of fees. There is need, therefore, to appreciate the criteria used to exclude UNZA from the increment to carter for needy students.
The allocation for management of audit queries has more than doubled to K250m in next year’s budget from the 2009 total authorized expenditure of K114m. In 2007, nearly K1bn was spent on the same budget line. The Ministry is expected to be reducing rather than increasing expenditure on
this budget line given that qualified personnel have been employed to help manage funds and that there have also been parallel allocations for capacity building for accounts officers and internal auditors. In addition, there is need to revisit some of the budget lines under the financial management vault as they appear repetitive. For instance, there is an allocation for the Financial Management System and IFMIS.
There is need for negotiations between government and teachers’ unions to be conducted within reasonable time to reduce the costs pertaining to this exercise, which allocation in next year’s budget is a whooping K332m from K532m in last year’s budget.
We also observed, for instance that, a total of K897,490,292 has been allocated for grants to support the implementation of the free basic education policy in Lusaka Province. This translates to an annual average allocation of K1,366,043 per school given the number of schools to be 657 in the province. This explains why the so called free education has not been free as schools find themselves in a situation where they are forced to charge fees in order to keep running. Similarly, general grants to schools budgeted an average allocation of about K6.9m per school are inadequate.
We would like to end by re-emphasing the need for sector allocations to address areas that will translate in provision of quality education and improve the sector performance indicators.
In conclusion we, would like to commend government for finally changing the budget cycle. We believe that this is a positive development that will contribute significantly to better fiscal management. Our encouragement is that this change in cycle be quickly followed by speedy release of resources to the various Ministries, Provinces and Spending Agencies. We believe that the change in budget cycle will only achieve the impact government intends if resources arrive where they need to be spent on time. The infrastructure development programme for the education sector in particular stands to greatly benefit from more implementation time that will be gained as a result of this welcome reform.
As we seek to realize some of the benchmarks for good budget practices, you may wish to know that the Open Budget Index for Zambia was rated at 47% according to a survey conducted by a Washington-based budget research organization. This is a survey that assesses how accessible budget information is to the public to facilitate their engagement with government over budget matters. (see http://www.openbudgetindex.org/cms/index/cfm?fa=view&id=2441&hd=1)
Hillary Chipango – ZANEC V/Chairperson
Mirriam Chonya- ZANEC Executive Director
Stanford Nsefu- ZANEC Accountant