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"Education will be compromised.”

Faines Kalaba, 57, is married with six children  and nine grandchildren. One of her grandchildren (aged 14) attends Mpumba Primary School in Mpika District, Muchinga Province.

“Mpumba Primary School is government funded and provides education for children from preschool up to grade nine. 739 children in total attend the school.

“It receives 1,700 kwacha (USD$266) twice a year from the government which it spend on things like sports activities and textbooks.  To try to make the most out of these funds, the teachers at the school contribute 20 kwacha (USD$3) each month from their salaries towards the cost of electricity.  The school also utilises water from the borehole in the nearby village.

“Seventeen teachers are employed by the school and are paid around 3,500-5,000 kwacha (USD$550-$780) each.  The school is very oversubscribed which means that there are around 80 children in each class, whereas there should ideally be no more than 40.

“Parents do not pay fees for children to attend school up until grade seven, but for grades eight and nine they must pay 200 kwacha (USD$30) per year. The parents should pay for uniforms which cost around 40 kwacha (USD$6) each, but the children are still allowed to continue in school even if parents cannot pay.

File 27264Faines Kalaba, 57, lives in Mpika District, Muchinga Province.

“There are other indirect fees which parents need to contribute to such as constructing a house for one of the teachers and printing report forms. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fundraised to build the house as there is a teacher living in the village who would like to be accommodated here in order to be closer to the school and be able to access electricity in order to plan effectively for lessons.

“I think that the school is working well but this term we have not received the children’s report forms as there were insufficient funds available to print them. There are also an insufficient number of textbooks, and not enough classrooms.  The classrooms that we do have do not provide enough light.

“We also need more toilets for the staff and pupils. Most toilets previously built for the pupils have collapsed as they were not properly constructed. An increase in the number of staff houses would also be very useful.

“A lot of things could change for the better if companies paid more tax to the government. We have a lot of problems which are caused by receiving insufficient funds. I would love to see a school that has enough infrastructure in place for pupils and teachers, as well as having enough teachers and learning and teaching materials.

“What is happening in Zambia is not good for the nation because if these companies paid more tax, I think a lot of these problems would be attended to. My grandson would like to be an engineer when he grows up but his education will be compromised which will limit his access to employment and opportunities.”