According to Aaron Chansa, executive director of the National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ), free education increases the likelihood of students contracting and transmitting the COVID-19 virus due to overcrowding and a lack of desks.
According to Chansa, the government did not purchase desks, putting educational quality at risk because most students sat on the floor during classes.
“One of the COVID-19 health protocols is physical separation.” We haven’t seen the government purchase desks since the Covid era, and by 2019, we had a 1.3 million desk shortage. We anticipate that due to over-enrollment, the implementation or introduction of free education will necessitate the provision of more than 1.5 [million] desks. The chances of students contracting and transmitting the COVID-19 virus are extremely high due to overcrowding. According to our survey, some of them learn while sitting on the floor, which reduces [educational] quality. “As a result,” he explained, “educational quality suffers.”
“The government promised us billions of dollars for desks, but no money has been released.” The CDF, which was meant to help, has also been underutilised. Furthermore, school grants are insufficient to cover the cost of buying desks. To summarise, schools are unable to purchase desks, the CDF is underutilised, and no funds have been made available by the central government to ensure that desks are purchased. This is a desperate situation, and we are hoping that as a result of the reminders we are sending to the government, the CDF administrative machinery will be unlocked. We have no idea why the CDF desk procurement process has been delayed.”
According to Chansa, inadequate funding for most schools has a negative impact on educational quality.