The Zambia Education Act 2011 mainstreams gender in line with Article 14 of the SADC Gender Protocol. This provides for equal access to quality education and training for women and men as well as their retention at all levels of education. It further provides for challenging stereotypes in education and eradicating GBV in educational institutions. Examples include:
Article 31: Gender balance and equity in educational institutions and educational systems:
(1) The Minister shall promote equity in access to education, participation in, and successful completion of education at all levels, irrespective of gender, social class or disability.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1), an Education Board or board of management shall develop and implement plans for the promotion of equal opportunities of access to, and participation in, the various levels of school education for which the education board or board of management is responsible.
(3) An Education Board or board of management shall ensure that both the curriculum and the associated teaching materials at an educational institution are gender sensitive.
(4) Gender issues and the development of gender sensitive teaching methodologies shall be integral to the pre-service and in-service training of teachers.
(5) The Minister shall endeavour to provide equal education opportunities for both male and female learners.
Article 32: Provision for protection against gender-based violence
(1) An Education Board or board of management shall develop procedures for preventing
the gender based violence of employees, teachers and learners at educational institutions.
(2) An education board or board of management shall establish mechanisms of dealing with cases of gender-based violence.
The Act reinforces the National Policy on Education of 1996, which has specific provisions aimed at eliminating factors that hinder access, progression and accomplishment of girls in schools and colleges. Female and male students are to be treated as equal beneficiaries and participants at all levels of education.
Part IV 18 (1) of the policy provides that:
Subject to the constitution and any other written law, a learner who is a child, shall not contract any form of marriage.
2) A person shall not:
(a) Marry or marry off a learner who is a child; or
(b) prevent or stop a learner who is a child from attending school for the purpose of marrying off the learner who is a child.
(c) a person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a period of not less than fifteen years and may be liable to imprisonment for life.
Section 19 says that an educational institution shall not discriminate against a learner in any manner. Section 22(1) provides that the Minister shall ensure equal access to quality education to all learners, including poor and vulnerable children. While section (5) ensures that education board and the board of management of an educational institution shall adopt a policy of positive and affirmative action in relation to poor and vulnerable children.
Limitations include the lack of specific reference to gender parity in decision making in all areas and at all levels within the sector. The act is also silent on the role of teachers, employees and administrators in bringing about the desired changes.
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