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Strategic plan is an organized process of directing and making decision on how to allocate resources to pursue the Strategy. Therefore the Ministry of Education Strategic Plan 2003-2007 is the ministry’s organized process of directing and making decisions on how to allocate resources to pursue their set strategies.

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Equity is the balance of fairness according to the needs, and according to Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1982), Equity means an equal distribution, sharing, justice and judgment on how the society distribute its resources.

Education is any organized and sustainable communication designed to bring to the about learning, (UNESCO).

A strategic plan was a five years plan (2003-2007) and it was based on the three documents which are; Educating our future 1996 Poverty, Reduction strategic paper (2001/2002), Report on the restring and decentralization of the ministry of education (2000), The plan started in May 2001 through a broadly consultative participatory process. Board consultative was come out through visit in all provinces and consultative stakeholders’ workshops. Access and equality are seen to the major challenge in Zambian education system and because of that the government has demonstrated a serious commitment to improve access and a free basic education or grade 1-7 in February 2002 in line with the “educating our future” document, Education in Zambia 2002 document articulates the major challenges for education in Zambia and sets the overall context of a strategic plan. In 1999, the MoE initiated the BESSIP in collaboration with its development partners. The latter also provided the skill competence necessary for self-employment and enterprise, thereby contributing to the economic growth and poverty reduction and furthermore, any gains in gender equity and decentralization have to be sustained throughout the whole system. However, this essay will focus on the major equity issues found in this document, and will suggest as to how education can promote equity.

Vulnerable children who included Orphans, Out-of-School Children, a girl child, street kids and people with disabilities, despite the introduction of free basic education for Grades 1-7 a number of children were not enrolled in the government system for a variety of reasons such as poverty, early marriage, gender discrimination, schools are too far to be accessed, to mention but a few.

Specific strategies were to be implemented to address these challenges, which included bursaries for basic clothing, school materials and weekly boarding facilities. Moreover, the Ministry had set up a task force in aggregation with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Child Development, Ministry of Health, NGOs, religious organizations and co-operating partners to develop a variety of informal and alternative approaches to reach these children through community Schools and Interactive Radio Centres.
Despite the Ministry identifying that over the last years there were kinds of successful alternative approaches that addressed enrolment of orphans and vulnerable groups had been established, through community schools and interactive radio centres provided specific access for all vulnerable children, those facilities brought support through grants and materials. This brought equity among the rich and the poor because everyone had opportunities to access education.

Special Programmes were introduced to innovate through crosscutting programmes that could be unified, supported and lengthened. These included HIV/AIDS, School Health Nutrition and special Educational Needs. HIV/AIDS was the greatest challenge of management and mitigation on the effect of HIV/AIDS on the teaching force, on families, on pupils, support workers and education officials throughout the country.
The Ministry of Education has developed a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy which includes advocacy and sensitization campaigns, development of workplace policies to provide counselling and protection to all in education institutions, and planning based on impact studies. These programs brought a wide understanding on HIV/AIDS on how it can be treated, contracted and be prevented.
For girls, the re-entry policy was one of the strategic plan and this helped in the sense that many girls were out of school because if one became pregnant they would drop out of school. To deal with this problem the government saw to it that after giving birth the girl went back to school. This reduced the number of girls staying at home.

In some schools, one strategy has been increasing the number of female staff since female teachers and head mistresses are considered to be good role models for the girls in schools and also being able to teach all subjects at basic levels 1-7(MOE, 2003) for example, the proportion of grade 6 pupils taught reading by female staff remained at 53percent in 2007 with a considerable increase in the proportion of 6th graders attending schools run by female school Head teachers (Alex, 2007). A girl child must not only go to school but must also do well in class.

Abolishment of early marriages, girls below the age of twenty one were are not allowed to get married. This helps girls stay in school instead of rushing to get married.

For the poor , orphans and school going children basic education is to be provided (for youths and adults inclusive ).for this basic education to be equitable , all children must be given the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning ensuring that all gender stereotyping in education is eliminated and also making sure that there is no discrimination.
(Kelly, 2007) learning does not take place in isolation therefore societies must ensure that all learners receive the nutrition , health care, general, physical and emotional support they need in order to participate actively and benefit from their education.

The introduction of user fees; the government intends to use the resultant savings to finance the additional recurrent expenditure that will result in an increase in primary education. Example of these user fees can be bursaries in higher learning institutions and removal examination fees in primary for grades 1, 7 and 9. And also sponsorships from the NGO`s and other donors.

Education provides knowledge and knowledge is the power that people need to deal with the inequity and inequality in today’s society. Therefore education is seen as one of the vices to promote equity, especially for the marginalised groups in society. The groups of the marginalised include; the people living with HIV, the poor, the orphans, and the people with disabilities, the girls and women too. How then can education promote equity?
Firstly, HIV/AIDS education was added to the education curriculum in order to inculcate knowledge of the condition to the learners so that they do not discriminate or stigmatise the victim, which was a great step. However, more could be done so as to promote equity in the society today in regard to people living with HIV. Policies can be put up in all institutions of learning to ensure that people living with HIV have access to quality education, employment and are freely able to participate in educational activities regardless of their status. More sensitisation for the public concerning HIV management. The Ministry of Education can encourage the opening of various AIDS clubs in which information about HIV can be shared to eradicate the many misconceptions about the condition, and also the learners living with HIV will be comfortable to participate in educational activities knowing that no one will judge them. (Government of the Republic of Zambia, 2014)
Secondly, the Zambia Education Act of 2011 part IV, talks about the re-entry policy entails that when a girl child falls pregnant they do have a right to return to the educational institution after delivery to resume regular lessons normally. It strongly speaks against child marriages. However, despite this active legal framework and policy document there remains a poor quality of education being delivered to addressing gendered power relations within institutions. A recommendation on this would be for the Ministry of Education to strictly ensure that mission schools also adhere to the re-entry policy. So many young girls decide to consider abortion once they fall pregnant in order to continue their studies at the mission school, due to fear of expulsion.

It is noticed that, Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) from 2005, has been implementing a multi-level scholarship scheme that is interlinked from basic to high school to tertiary level, at a female/male ratio of 70:30 percent. A total of 28,170 scholarships at all three levels where awarded in the period 2005-2011. There is need for more Non- Governmental Organisations to step up to the plate to help promote equity through education.

Thirdly, The Ministry of Higher Education is also advocating for equity through education by providing vulnerable and orphaned students at various learning institutions like The University of Zambia and many other with scholarship and student loans in order for the poor to be educated thus reducing poverty. Hence, using one stone to kill two birds. (Hunt, 2008)
Also various schools have Parent Teacher Associations running in order to support the orphaned and vulnerable children with user fees, clothing and food. In these Parent Teacher Associations there are some parents that are financially stable to support the less privileged to stay in school as well. (Ministry of Education, 2003)
The Ministry of Education has also endeavoured to improve the quality of basic education so that the poor children can access and participate in an education that is of quality just as the rich children do. (Ministry of Education, 2003)
And finally, equity for the disabled in education can be promoted through training more teachers in this field, ensuring that there are user friendly facilities for them to access in every institution. It has been observed that disabled students lack motivation to actively participate in education due to the fact that facilities are not user friendly. For instance lack of learning material for the blind, no sign lessons for the deaf and many other. Sensitising the community on the importance of educating the disabled children.

To sum it all up, the 2003-2007 strategic plan was to address all the sub-sectors of education but strive to remain realistic within the constraints of capacity, finance and time scale. It included several priorities one of them being equity and equality. After reading through this essay it is safe to then conclude that the Ministry of Education cannot do it on their own, there is need to join hands in order to promote equity and using education as a vice shades a bright lamp light on this matter. It is indeed by acting together that we can win and help build a better Zambia.

Government of the Republic of Zambia (2014). Zambia Country Report 2013: Monitoring the
Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS and the Universal Access. Biennial
Report, Submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on
HIV and AIDS, March 31st 2014.

Hunt, F. (2008). Dropping Out from School: A Cross Country Review of Literature. Project
Report. Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity
(CREATE), Falmer, UK.

Kelly, M. J. (1999). Origin and Development of Education in Zambia: From Pre-colonial
Times to 1996. Lusaka, Image Publishers Limited.

Ministry of Education, FAWEZA and UNICEF (2004) Guidelines for the Re-entry Policy.
Lusaka: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education (2010). Review of the Re-entry policy. Lusaka: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education (2011). Zambia Education Act. Lusaka: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education (2003). Strategic Plan 2003- 2007. Lusaka: Ministry of Education.

UNESCO (2009). Overcoming inequality: Why Governance Matters. EFA Global Monitoring
Report. Oxford University Press.

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