Dutch government offers US$10mn education support

unicefThe Netherlands has pledged to support UNICEF’s education programme in Zambia through US$10mn (ZMK50bn) of funding this year

The support will focus on the most vulnerable children in the country. Harry Molenaar (Netherlands ambassador to Zambia) and Drlyorlumun Uhaa (UNICEF country representative) signed the agreement recently in Lusaka. The UN agency would channel the funds through direct financial and technical support to the Ministry of Education (MoE), according to a statement released by UNICEF. Ambassador Molenaar said the programme was tailored to improve children’s access to quality education.

“The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to the national targets of improving children’s access to equitable quality education, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP),” said Molenaar. “If we are to expect Zambia’s children and adolescents to be able to develop, learn, and participate in a protective and enabling environment, it is our duty and responsibility as a partner country to double our efforts in providing the required support to help us reap these desired results.”

UNICEF country representative, Dr. Uhaa said the new investment fitted well with the overall collaboration between the Dutch government and the UN agency in many areas, both at the global and country levels. “We are excited and looking forward to meeting the challenges and opportunities this arrangement presents to us,” he said. “Under the leadership of the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), we will implement this programme to achieve tangible and measurable results for children in the target districts.”

The agreement comes with specific prerequisites, namely that the needs of the most vulnerable children in 16 target districts are prioritised and included in the planning, management, and monitoring of education services at the district and provincial levels. It states that the needs of the most vulnerable girls and boys should be prioritised and included in the national education policy, strategies, planning, curriculum development, and training in a child-friendly teaching and learning environment.

It is also expected that 10,000 children in the 16 target districts will participate in early childhood, care, development, and education services by 2013 and 500 basic and community schools will be provided with a child-friendly learning environment by 2013 as well. The programme will be implemented in low performing districts such as Lukulu, Kalabo, Shangombo, Petauke, Katete and Chama. Others are Milenge, Samfya, Chilubi, Luwingu, Mporokoso, Chiengi, Kaputa, Mbala, Mungwi and Isoka.

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