Financing youth and adult literacy learning in Zambia: Determinant for the 7th National Development Plan target on youth and adult literacy

Keywords: Adult literacy Education  Financing  IndustrialisationNational Development PlanYouth.


Youth and adult literacy is a key determinant for the human development index on knowledge and education in Zambia. However, the widening literacy gaps remain a source of concern for the Zambian government and development agencies. This theoretical paper engages in a systematic analysis of the historical and current financing of youth and adult literacy learning in Zambia. The purpose is to conceptualise the funding practices and how they have affected literacy provision and determine Zambia’s chance of meeting its youth and adult literacy targets of the 7th National Development Plan. This was a desk review that included analysing education financing reports, curriculum policy documents and scholarly literature. The analysed documents included Zambia’s 6th National Development Plan, the 7th National Development Plans, Curriculum Review Framework for 2013, Ministry of Finance budget estimates on education and Ministry of Education reports of 2010 to 2020. The review established that the financing of youth and adult literacy learning in Zambia has been a historical challenge. Past efforts to improve funding have been met with a lack of commitment by stakeholders. The budgetary allocation to this sub-sector has been consistently the lowest in the Zambian education sector especially the period 2015 to 2020. The result has been challenges including the lack of trained facilitators, inadequate literacy learning facilities and teaching material. The literacy efforts have been characterised by failure to achieve their objectives. Youth and adult literacy continue to be a financially neglected sub-subsector of the education system in Zambia, despite its important place in the country’s human development index on knowledge. Thus, if Zambia continues on this funding trajectory, it risks missing the 7th National Development Plan targets of expanding youth and adult literacy, and skills for industrialisation. The paper recommends that the Zambian government consider a paradigm shift in financing strategies to include: a coordinated financing approach, the utilisation of an integrated literacy constituency development fund, creation of the youth and adult literacy fund incorporated with a literacy tax, and remodelling literacy programmes.


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