Accelerating Universal Primary Education
29 May, 2013: The Ministry of Education, Sports, Art and Culture with support from the United Nations launched the Accelerated Action Plan (AAP) for MDG2 for Zimbabwe that aims at ensuring that by 2015, all Zimbabwean children—boys and girls alike—will be able to complete primary education.
The plan, which has been developed using the MDG Accelerated Framework (MAF) methodology, identifies Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), School Feeding Programme, Second Chance Education and School Improvement Grants as selected focus areas of intervention. The methodology defines opportunities for scaling up the effectiveness of these interventions to meet the MDG targets by 2015.
Through these measures, Zimbabwe hopes to retain its pole position in sub-Saharan Africa in the area of universal primary education.
After independence in 1980, Zimbabwe enjoyed some of the highest levels of net enrolment in Africa. However Net Enrolment Ratio (NER), that reflects the share of children of official primary school age that are enrolled in primary school declined to 91 percent in 2009 from a peak of 99 percent in 2000, according to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
Compared to the African aggregate of 87 percent in 2010 (MDR 2013), this is still a relatively high figure.
However, there’s growing concern that the number of children who remain in primary school until grade 7 is now much lower than in the past. For instance, there was a decline between 1996 (82.6 percent) and 2006 (68.2 percent), according to the education ministry.
During the launch of the Accelerated Action Plan for MDG2 report for Zimbabwe that was held on 29 May 2013, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sports, Art and Culture, Ms. Constance Chigwamba expressed the government’s full commitment to the plan.
“Going forward, the AAP will be launched provincially in August 2013 and implementation will follow immediately. An updated progress report is expected on the state of MDG 2 in December 2013,” she said, stressing the need for resource mobilization to meet costs of implementation.
“The interventions are considered ‘low hanging fruits’ to be scaled up in the near future to generate high-impact results” states the AAP adding that these policy measures will benefit from past successes in the area of primary education in Zimbabwe as well as improve on existing strategies and structures.
“Education has been given the priority because it affects all the goals. Educated and empowered people can work towards ending poverty, which affects all other MDGs,” remarked UNDP Economic Advisor, James Wakiaga.
Against the background of constrained resources, UNESCO suggests that government and education partners should intensify their efforts to increase resources for programmes such as BEAM and ensure that teachers can be retained by improving their conditions of service and opportunities for professional development. Providing the same conditions for early childhood development programme as for primary schools is necessary. In addition, UNESCO urges building capacity of the planning department of the MoESAC in respect of data processing and analysis.
Realizing that many countries have been experiencing severe challenges to achieving MDGs, the UNDP developed and tested an MDG Framework (MAF) in 2010. It has since been endorsed by all UN development agencies as members of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). The framework is intended to enable countries to better analyze why they are lagging behind on specific MDGs, to prioritize bottlenecks to progress, and to identify accelerated collaborative solutions involving governments and all relevant stakeholders.
Furthermore, MAF helps to address new challenges related to meeting the MDGs in a particular country context.