Zambia has signed two Financing Agreements with the European Union -EU, amounting to one hundred and ten million EUROS.

Zambia’s Minister of Education MR. DOUGLAS SYAKALIMA signed on behalf of Zambia while the European Union Commissioner for International Partnership, MS. JUTTA URPILAINEN signed for the European Union in Brussels, at the Global Gateway High -Level event on Education.

The two agreements include Financing for Social Reforms-, amounting to 60 million Euros budget support programme, aimed at improving access, quality, equity and inclusiveness in primary and secondary education, including support to public financial management while the other agreement is on Equal Chances for Human Development amounting to 50 million Euros aimed at holistically improving Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) with focus on the Luapula and North Western provinces.

Earlier in a panel discussion, MR SYAKALIMA said the President of Zambia MR HAKAINDE HICHILEMA, declared free Education from early Childhood to Secondary school immediately he came into office, because of the realisation that if the government does not invest in free education, its people will not be competitive in the future.

MR SYAKALIMA said the government has increased funding to education from eight (8) percent to 14 percent and has further empowered the local communities through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by increasing it from 1.6 million to 30.6 million Kwacha, most of which goes to funding education infrastructure and support to learners.

He said the government in 2022 recruited over 30 thousand teachers, in order to improve the pupil teacher ratio, especially with an increase in enrolments triggered by the free education policy, which saw over two million children going back to school.

And the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships MS JUTTTA URPILAINEN said, the EU has increased its investments in education from 7 percent to 13 percent in 2021 to 2023 adding that, the EU, provides over half of the global Official Development Assistance (ODA) to education through different levels which include bilaterally, regionally and globally adding that it will continue to do so up to 2025.

The Commissioner said the EU has delivered excellent results through Budgetary support, Performance Assessment, Policy Dialogue and Capacity Building, adding that through this integrated approach it is helping to strengthen education systems.

She said the EU also provides 58.5 percent funding to education for the much needed support in emergencies and crisis.

And during bilateral meeting with the Zambian Minister of Education, the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership on Education(GPE), MS LAURA FRIGENTI commended Zambia on the role it is playing in improving and prioritising investments in education adding that, investment in education delivers results in the long run and has challenged Zambia to promote this kind of leadership in the African Union in order for African union education ministers to embrace the long term trajectory of education.

She said the GPE looks forward to partner with the African Union adding that she is encouraged with this African Union’s theme for this year which focuses on education.

And the International Monitory Fund (IMF) Managing Director KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA has said that though education is a key ingredient for economic stability and inclusiveness, access to education is still a challenge for far too many people.

MS. GEORGIEVA said the role of her organisation is to help governments to implement budgets that can sustainably finance priority investments like education, even in the face of economic shocks which are more frequent and more severe over the last years.

She said the IMF financial assistance requires governments, to protect spending on education, health and social support and since 2018, the IMF has an explicit requirement that social spending including on education is prioritised and secured in programmes supported by the IMF.

MS GEOGIEVA said in all this work, the IMF partners with the European Union and together they can provide the help needed to fight the challenges of today and build a better tomorrow.

This is contained in a statement issued by first Secretary for Press HAMBAYA MUNANG’ANDU.

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