Although the introduction of free education policy has increased school attendance, lack of classroom space and inadequate desks still remain a challenge, reports *Francis Lungu*
These challenges are described as a violation of children’s rights to accessing quality education.
During a recent symposium interface on the rights of children organised by the Zambia Civic Education Asoociation (ZCEA), it was agreed that government together with other concerned stakeholders should urgently address this malaise.
ZCEA executive director Nzila Sabalima said government’s move to introduce free education has seen overwhelming numbers of children going back to school, translating high attendance levels.
The interface meeting was between children from Lusaka’s Garden and Kamanga communities and local level policy makers under the Community Monitoring of children’s rights projects.
Ms Sibalima said ZCEA has been working to ensure children’s rights were widely known to both their peers and adults.
According to Ms Sibalima, this would strengthen accountability and build consensus on children’s rights at family, school, community, district, and national levels.
“ZCEA has been supporting community monitoring teams including adults and children to monitor children’s rights.The community monitoring of children’s rights involves volunteer adult and children monitoring teams who monitor children’s enjoyment of their human rights ,“ she said.
She said the community monitoring teams were engaged in monitoring of selected children’s rights as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Children.
She said it was important for Government to ensure that children’s rights were enjoyed by providing necessities such as affordable health services, proper education infrastructure, recreation facilities many other facilities that would enable children attain decent lives.
Reverend John Kumalo who represented Kamanga Adult Community Monitoring team said Kamanga community faced a number of challenges which needed to be addressed.
He said Kamanga residential area has a total population of 30,000 out of which 20, 000 are children, however, the locality only has one primary school, which is inadequate.
The school only has a capacity to carter for 2,000 children.
Additionally, Rev Kumalo complained of nearby clinics not having ablution blocks for children and that clinics should ensure privacy for children.
Mary Mambwa who represented the Child Monitoring team from Garden Township said she hoped Government could protect the rights of children by providing conducive learning environment for all children in the country.
She said some children travelled long distances to acces education and that in some schools some children sat on the floor making it hard for them to concentrate especially during the cold season.