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Speech by the Minister of Education at CAMFED Zambia's 2021 AGM

CAMFED Zambia was delighted to welcome Hon. Douglas Siakalima, Minister of Education, to the 20th Annual General Meeting where he gave an address and reaffirmed his government's commitment to girls' education.

“Chairperson of the CAMFED Board of Trustees Professor Dickson Mwansa, Honorable Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am absolutely delighted to be here with you as you celebrate CAMFED’s 20 years of work in the promotion of education for marginalized children, especially rural girls and women, in Zambia.

Chairperson, Our President, His Excellency Mr. Hakainde Hichilema is live to the challenges facing the education sector, especially education for marginalized populations in rural areas, and it is for this reason that the UPND Manifesto under education specifically states that it will, and I quote:

  • Ensure girl children have equal access to education as boy children by tracking and addressing challenges that girl children face such as child marriages menstrual hygiene and pregnancies; and
  • Put in place policies that will address the effects of pandemics like COVID-19 that has brought education for many young people to a standstill. These will include e-learning and the use of ICT in all schools. This will be combined with targeted policies to ensure the national connectivity backbone is enhanced for a digital future.

It is clear therefore that the education of girls and the addressing of barriers facing them and the sector as a whole, are among the top priority of this government. For a long time now the budgetary allocation to education has not been adequate even to meet the barest minimum of education provision in our country. Barriers facing rural and marginalized girls have gone on unresolved and this has resulted in high dropout rates among girls.

I was delighted to hear of CAMFED’s achievements during your brief visit to my office but the little I heard really warmed my heart because the girls you support mirror my background. Your resilience and resolve to support the most marginalized girls and young women over 20 years in Zambia and over 25 years since CAMFED was founded, demonstrate a resolve to make a difference to answer Zambia’s challenges in development. 

The over 62,000 girls you have supported through [secondary] school and over 1.2 million school populations who have benefitted from your holistic school approach is no small feat and I commend you for this. I am confident that because of your resolve and sound strategies you will, as a consortium of 5 countries across Africa, meet the high targets of educating 5 million girls in the five years of your Strategic Plan. You can be assured of our government support.

Young women like Mercy whom you brought to represent her alumna, the CAMFED Association, (CAMA), really made me believe that the impact of your work goes beyond just support for girls to have an education, it actually accompanies them until they start changing their communities for the better.   

The over 15,000 young women of this [CAMFED] Association are part and parcel of the focus of the newly established Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Small Scale micro Enterprise. I urge you to work closely with this Ministry to ensure CAMA businesses are supported and the young women get their share of training in value addition and expansion of their businesses so that they in turn can use their profits to educate the next generation and employ fellow youth in their enterprises.

Chairperson I can go on and on because what you are doing is close to my heart. I appreciate that you work closely with government and communities. Your collaboration with their Royal Highnesses is a sustainability strategy and the quickest way of influencing communities for positive change. Our community leaders hold keys to community attitude change so it is very important to work closely with them.

I can assure you of my support towards your work and urge you to continue complementing government work because we cannot do it alone. I am aware that some of the interventions you undertake are making a great contribution towards girls’ retention and youth’s behavioural change towards life and global issues like climate change.  The system needs to take cognizance of such interventions and bring them to scale. The Guides programmes [e.g Learner Guides, Transition Guides] spearheaded by CAMA are some of the interventions you need to disseminate not only to MOE but to other line ministries, for scaling. This will solve a number of challenges the youth are facing.

I urge cooperating partners both local and international and the private sector to support the work of CAMFED.

Let me end by congratulating you on this auspicious occasion when you celebrate 20 years of work in Zambia and for holding the Annual General meeting. A true mark of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.  

May God richly bless you all.”       

Hon. Douglas Siakalima, Minister of Education                                                              

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