THE United Kingdom (UK) will spend a record K315 million in financial support to the education sector over the next three years targeting 3.5 million Zambian children, British High Commissioner to Zambia, James Thornton has said.
The capital investment places the UK, as the first G20 country to meet the United Nations (UN) target for development spending.
In total, the UK expects to spend K560 million on its development programmes for Zambia in 2013 reflecting an increase of approximately 27 per cent expenditure over 2012.
The financing agreement was signed in Lusaka yesterday between, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda and Head of the Department for International Development (DfID) in Zambia, Kevin Quinlan.
The expenditure would be disbursed as K50.3 million for this year, K84 million in 2014, another K84 million in 2015 and K58.8 million in 2016. Of the amount, K277 million would be channelled to education over the three-year period, while a further K37.8 million had been committed for technical support and programme monitoring, representing the total of K315 million.
Witnessing the event, Mr Thornton said his government was committed to ensuring children were able to attend and complete school in Zambia and around the world. "UK aid will support the implementation of the Government's National Implementation Framework (NIF III) for the education sector up to 2016. The support focuses on improving the quality of primary education and expanding access to secondary schools, particularly for girls," he said.
He said the funding would be fully aligned to the Ministry of Education's budget and accompanied by technical support to help strengthen national systems for financial management and monitoring results.
The UK would also supervise a separate recent grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which supported education around the world.
"I am delighted about this big new programme. Education is a key sector for Zambia's development.
The overall increase in the UK's assistance to Zambia is part of a broader increase in development spending by the UK worldwide. This year, the UK becomes the first G20 country ever to meet the ambitious UN target for development spending. It is a target that we intend to meet every year from now on," Mr Thornton said.
He expressed commitment to improvement of the international economic framework in ways that would develop countries such as Zambia as illustrated by UK's focus on trade, tax and transparency during its presidency of the G8 group of major economies.
Mr Chikwanda hailed the UK for its unwavering support to ensuring educational standards were improved and poverty levels, reduced.
He said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) actualised DfID's commitment to the mutual accountability framework signed in 2012.
He said the disbursements would contribute towards the funding of the national implementation framework, 2011-2015, in support of programmes prioritised in the re-aligned Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP).