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Friday, December 19, 2014

Paul Shalala Scoops 2014 ZANEC Online Media Innovation Award


ZANEC Chairperson Elly Mwale handing over the award to Mr Shalala

Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) reporter Paul Shalala has scooped the Best Online Media Innovation Award at the 2014 ZANEC Media Awards held last night in Lusaka.

The awards where hosted by the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) to award journalists who have showed excellence in reporting on education issues this year.

Mr Shalala’s award winning story was published on his blog The Zambian Analyst on 12th September, 2014 and it profiled over 20, 000 teachers who have formed a facebook group and a WhatsApp group to share best practices of teaching pupils across the country.

The story also showed how the interaction among teachers through social media was improving education standards as veteran teachers where using these platforms to mentor the new comers in the fraternity on how to come up with lesson plans and how to teach in class.

The Zambia Teachers Forum Facebook group has over 15,000 members while the WhatsApp group has over 5,000 members.

The award winning story can be read here: http://paulshalala.blogspot.com/2014/09/over-20000-teachers-using-social-media.html

This is the second media award Mr Shalala has won this year.

On 14th November this year, Mr Shalala received Second Prize during the 2014 Africa Fact Checking Media Awards held in Nairobi, Kenya for his story on the impact of multi-national mining investments on Zambia's food security.

ZNBC Deputy Assignments Editor Jeff Banda also scooped the overall award for the Television category.
Mr Banda’s story on the challenges faced by school going pupils to access education in Vubwi District of Eastern Province, earned him the award.
Paul Shalala and Jeff Banda (left) during the awards gala

The duo of Doreen Nawa and Violet Mengo of the Zambia Daily Mail scooped the overall prize in the print category while Lawrence Lihusha of Radio Christian Voice walked away with the overall radio award.
Henry Kabwe, Chairperson of the 2014 ZANEC Media Awards Committee, told the awards gala that 15 entries here submitted by seven journalists for judging.

“We looked for quality of the stories, innovation, impact of the stories and whether they raised issues of human rights. It is from this criteria that we chose the winning entries,” said Kabwe,  who is also chairperson of the Media Network on Children’s Rights and Development.

Meanwhile, during the awards gala, ZANEC Executive Director Grace Manyonga called for more efforts by Zambia stakeholders to achieve several goals on education set at the international level.

And opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) President Edith Nawakwi, who spoke during the awards, said there was need to decentralize decision making in the education sector to the district level.

“Western Province has one of the lowest pass rates in the country because the Ministry of Education has not understood what is going on. The area floods a lot and pupils are cut off from schools. So we need to decentralize so that education authorities in Kalabo District can set the education calendar for themselves,” said Nawakwi, who is for the second time in three years running for Zambia’s presidential elections in 2015 as the only female candidate.

Monday, December 15, 2014

MICHAEL SATA: A Champion for Quality Education




Late President Sata greeting pupils from Sioma
By Pumulo Mungoma
 
Since the demise of Zambia’s fifth President, Michael Chilufya Sata in October 2014 in London, the issue that has occupied the minds of many Zambians is the legacy that he has left behind. 

This article looks at some key contributions made by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) to the education sector under the leadership of President Sata- since the party came to power in September, 2011.

Allow me to first join fellow Zambians in expressing sincere condolences to the nation and first family on the death of President Sata.

A lot has been said about 77-year old President Sata’s life, especially his perseverance in ascending to the highest office of the land. President Sata- himself a graduate in political science at Atlantic International University of the United States of America- ascended to the presidency on the preface to promote education as a corner stone for meaningful sustainable socio-economic development.

Teachers will no doubt remember President Sata for increasing their salaries from September 2013.  That was a great motivation to teachers so as to accelerate productivity and quality education.However, the wage increase is losing value due to wage freeze in the 2014 and 2015 national budgets. Was salary increment just an act of politicking when the head of state made a decision which is not backed by budgetary capacity?I am aware that government and unions having reached a stalemate on that matter, as unions have since declared the wage freeze as “illegal”. All in all, the increase was commendable!

Under the leadership of President Sata,a new national curriculum framework was introduced, which was officially launched at Lusaka’s Munali Secondary School early this year. Before this development, Zambia used a curriculum which was based on the 1966 repealed Education Act. As John Phiri- Minister of Education observes-  Zambia needs the new look at the curriculum as the 1966 Education Act had become “in many ways archaic and required serious attention.” (Ministerial Statement to Parliament, 21st February 2014). The new curriculum is currently being implemented at pre-school, grade 1, grade 5, grade 8 and grade 10. What come along with the new curriculum? 

The new curriculum framework offers learners with a choice of career pathways at secondary school; either academic or vocational pathways.  This responds to the developmental needs of the nation as well as those of the individual learner by according learners an opportunity to progress according to their abilities and interests.

Under the leadership of President Sata we witnessed the fruition of the introduction of early childhood education (pre-school), an educational provision for children between the ages of three and six.This helps in transiting smoothly these children into primary school.To compliment this, government recruited 1,000 early childhood teachers.

With such development, government continued to strengthen efforts towards the fulfilling of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, with a keen interest on MDG number two- “to achieve primary universal education”.  Varying records indicate above ninety percent (90%) of Zambian children of school going ages are enrolled in school. Of course, there is still need to improve quality education in as far as we need many learners to access the education.

There has been stable consideration in the national budget. In the 2015 national budget the education sector has received an allocation of 20%  out of the ZWK 46 billion grand total. Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda announced that 5,000 teachers will be employed nest year in order to close the teacher-pupil ratio gap, and sustain reasonable funding to schools, especially primary schools- in light of the re-introduced primary and secondary school system.Also, the government continued to support the re-entry policy for girls who fall pregnant in the need to promote girl-child education.

One other interesting and yet controversial aspect of the new curriculum is the allowance of teaching learners in a local familiar language from Grade 1-4, with English being introduced as a subject in grade two. This change enables young learners to easily acquire basic literacy, numeracy, scientific and technological knowledge, skills and valuesas teaching is done in a language they understand well. Of interest too is that a deliberate program is underway to take care of adult literacy among the citizenry.

Sata’s government incorporated the learning of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at primary and secondary school level so as to create ICT awareness among learners. Alas, the biggest challenge has been the lack of availability of learning materials and equipment for ICT. However, the move will in the long run improve relevance of the education sector due to a world that is becoming more and more computerized.

Robert Makasa University in Chinsali
Of great importance was the passing of the Teaching Profession Act by parliament. This led to the formation of the Teaching Profession Council which will license and regulate teachers. Additionally a board of directors has since been appointed for the Higher Education Council which will regulate colleges and universities, too.

When President Sata addressed the fourth session of the eleventh national assembly, on 19th September 2014, he gave an impressive report of the completion of construction of 41 of the 84 targeted new secondary schools. With the vision to establish at least one public university in each of the ten provinces, he had kick started the implementation with the now almost completed Robert Makasa and Paul Mushindo Universities. Yet, the construction of new universities brings to mind how government would manage to fund these universities given that it has failed to fund existing institutions sufficiently. Will this not magnify the problem with new universities? Probably a wait and see situation!

Additionally, there has been ongoing upgrading of colleges such as Mukuba, Kwame Nkrumah, Chalimbana into universities. Government too, signed a Memorandum of Understanding worth K21 million with DMI St. Eugene University where a total of 2,000 teachers were enrolled this year.This has made it easier for teachers to upgrade their qualifications.

There is no doubt that under the leadership of President Sata credibility was added to the management and administration of examinations in the country which saw a reduction in examination malpractice, especially leakages. Interestingly, some Grade 12 pupils on the Copperbelt protested and rioted in the name of having been accessing fake examination papers this year.

President Sata created not less than 30 new districts, and re-aligned some to new provinces as well as the creation of Muchinga province. This has enabled easier access to offices of the Provincial Education Officer and the District Education Board Secretary. Southern province in particular was lucky in that President Sata moved its provincial capital from Livingstone to centrally located Choma district. 

Michael Sata Bridge (formerly Chiawa Bridge)
Additionally, there was mass road construction and some bridges. One such bridge was named Michael Chilufya Sata, found in the Chiawa valley of Kafue district. In fact, one of the schools that this bridge connects is Chiawa Primary School, a school I served at on my first appointment for about three years.

President Sata was a supporter of trade unionism. You may recall that under his leadership his government the liftedthe ban of a teacher trade union, the Professional Teachers Union of Zambia (PROTUZ)- which had been banned shortly after registration by the previous government.  That is a gallant respect for teachers’ freedom of association. The Zambian education system now has four teacher unions namely the Basic Teachers’ Union of Zambia, Professional Teachers Union of Zambia, Secondary Teachers Union of Zambia, and the Zambia National Union of Teachers. However, in the eyes of the general teacher membership, teacher unions are yet to prove their effectiveness member representation.

Having discussed these contributions the former head of state and his team contributed to the nation, let me make mention that there are many challenges teachers still face, including the education system as a whole. These include lack of teachers’ accommodations, arduous transfer system,pathetic salary harmonization, inadequate teaching /learning materials, high girl-child pregnancy rates, high teacher pupil ratio, teachers’ poor conditions of service in private schools, limited bursary schemes at universities, none payments of settling in allowance, uncoordinated performance assessment and evaluation procedures,retirement age and pension contributions, etc.Government and stakeholders should find lasting solutions to these and many more problems in keeping alive the legacy of President Sata.

In conclusion, despite many challenges President Sata has been a good leader in promoting quality education- at least in education.In Tonga we say“sokwe utondezya bulowa bwakwe”- (translated, one needs to do his best within his means in a making a difference). For sure, President Sata tried his best, a solid foundation where his successor can begin from. As former South African president Nelson Mandela said:“Education is the greatest weapon you can use to change the world!”Here lies Michael Chilufya Sata; a champion and an ardent lover of education.

About the Author:

Pumulo Mungoma is a Zambian educationist, and a passionate writer on issues that relate to government education policy. He also works with some independent educational professional bodies.
Cell phone: +260954-623860

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mozambican Democracy: A Possible Model For Zambia

Campaign posters on a street in Mozambique
By Paul Shalala in Maputo, Mozambique

Mozambique may have emerged from two decades of war, but its way ahead in its path of strengthening its democratic institutions.

This southern African country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975 but it soon descended into a brutal war which only came to an end in 1992.

Since then, Mozambique has held democratic elections at local government and parliamentary level as well as electing three Presidents so far.

My one week stay in the Mozambican districts of Bilene, Manhica and Maputo in late November showed me how democracy is flourishing in this emerging gas producer.

Election officials in Mozambique
All across the 200 kilometers stretch of the Maputo-Bilene road are posters of major political parties that took part in the 15 October, 2014 General Elections where ruling party candidate Felipe Nyusi emerged victorious as the country's new President.

Zambia may have had many years of multi-party politics but its still lagging behind in a number of ways that Mozambiaque has become a shining example.

Below are some of the progressive democratic institutions and laws that Zambia is still trying to establish which Mozambique has already institutionalised:

1. Constitutional Court:

In the Final Draft Constitution released by the Zambian government on 24 October, 2014, a Constitutional Court has been proposed to determine many constitutional issues.
Supporters of opposition candidate Daviz Simango

One of these issues is the determination of elections and the overall winner of presidential elections.

This court also hears and determines all electoral petitions and disputes.

Mozambique already has a constitutional court and according to that country's constitution, this court has a 45 day period from the day the Mozambican Electoral Commission announces the election results to the day it is supposed to officially announce the winner.

2. Transition Period

In Zambia, a winning Presidential candidate is supposed to be sworn in within 24 hours after being declared victorious.

Many observers say 24 hours is too short a time for swearing in a president due to the many irregularities and petitions that may arise after the election.

But in Mozambique, their constitution has a 45 day transition period from the day the Electoral Commission announces the result to the day the new president is sworn in.
Renamo Presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama

This period helps the out-going government to hand over to the new government and it allows the new team to be oriented into the affairs of the nation.

Currently, the ruling party FRELIMO's Filipe Nyusi is within the 45 day period where he is waiting for the Mozambican Constitutional Court to declare him winner following the declaration of his 15 October victory by the Electoral Commission.

During this time, Nyusi is being taken through the day to day running of the country and he is also constituting his own Cabinet which he will only announce after he is sworn in.

A local journalist jokingly told me that during this time, ruling party officials keep their phones on in case Nyusi phones them for a place in his government and others are busy issuing statements on TV so that Nyusi can notice their "hardwork."

A campaign poster for FRELIMO candidate Felipe Nyusi
3. Freedom of Information Law

In the last week of November 2014, the Mozambican parliament passed the Freedom of Information Law which has been hailed by several stakeholders as progressive.

This law was pushed by civil society and media bodies in the country.

In Zambia, the Access to Information Bill has been shelved for 14 years following its withdrawal from parliament in 2002.

Activists and media organisations argue that once Zambia enacts this bill into law, the public will have power to question the authorities on issues they need clarity.

They argue that in the absence of such a law, transparency and accountability are hard to be ascertained.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Africa Check Engages Stakeholders To Start Fact Checking Zambia

Anim with Zambian Bloggers during the meeting in Lusaka
By Paul Shalala

Africa Check, the Johannesburg-based organisation which is leading the way in promoting factual news on the continent, has started engaging Zambian stakeholders with the hope of kick starting fact checks across the country.

Africa Check Deputy Editor Anim Van Wyk, who was in Zambia for a couple of days this week, has visited several media institutions to find ways in which they could partner in fact checking stories in future.

Anim has so far visited the Zambia Daily Mail and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation where she held meetings with editors to find out how they could work together.

This morning, Anim met members of the Zambian Bloggers Network, an organisation composed of about 50 journalists who blog on various issues such as politics, gender, development and reproductive health.

Anim told the bloggers that she was keen to see how they could come on board and help in fact checking stories and public claims.

"I know that in Zambia you have topical issues like the upcoming presidential elections and the constitution. So we would love you people to fact check on the main campaign issues, what candidates stand for and also the issues in the constitution," said Anim during the meeting held at the Arcades Shopping Mall.

She further said Africa Check will in the future start commissioning stories to fact check in Zambia but she encouraged bloggers to also start suggesting stories to be fact checked since they are on the ground.

During the meeting, bloggers raised concern at the lack of adherence to journalism ethics by some Zambians online.

"There is need for professionalism on the internet. People just post stories without verifying and they mislead the masses," complained Sally Chiwama, who blogs on gender and reproductive health: (http://sallychiwama.wordpress.com/)

Another blogger Richard Mulonga, said the internet has made people more aware of what is happening worldwide.

"People now can read anything from anywhere just on their laptops or phones. For those practising journalists, blogs are their only avenue to express themselves without those newsroom restrictions," said Mulonga, who blogs as The Picture Monger: (http://thepicturemonger.blogspot.com/2008/09/picture-monger.html)

Meanwhile, Zambian Bloggers Network Director Brenda Zulu said the low internet penetration in the country is a source of concern.

"Its a pity that very few people access the internet in this country. Most of them access the net on their mobile phone. We need more people online to create an informed nation," said Brenda, who blogs under the name ICT Journalist: (http://brendait.blogspot.com/)

Africa Check in partnership with the AFP Foundation and African Media Initiative are running the annual Africa Fact Checking Media Awards which were held for the first time last month in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Zambia Maintains Corruption Score But Drops On Global Rankings

An Anti-Corruption poster in Zambia
By Paul Shalala

Zambia has maintained its score of 38 points on the 2014 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) but dropped two places on the global rankings.

According to the CPI results released early this morning by Transparency International in the Germany capital Berlin, Zambia is now ranked 85th in the world out of a total of 174 countries surveyed this year.

The CPI has revealed that Zambia has dropped two places on the rankings from 83 last year to 85 this year despite having scored 38 points in both years.

At 85 in the world, Zambia is ranked alongside Burkina Faso, India, Sri Lanka and The Phillipines.

In Africa, Zambia has been ranked 12th.

Botswana is the highest ranked African country at number 31 despite it having dropped from 30 last year when it again outshinned other African countries on the global rankings.

Other better performing African countries on the 2014 Corruption Perception Index global rankings are Cape Verde (42th), Seychelles (43rd), Mauritius (47th), Lesotho (49th), Namibia (55th), Ghana (61st), South Africa (67th), Swaziland (69th), Sao Tome and Principe (76) and Benin (80th).

On the global stage, Scandinavian countries have dominated the top 5 least corrupt list.

Denmark has maintained its top ranking as the least corrupt country in the world at number 1, a rank it held even last year.

The Scandinavian country is followed closely by New Zealand at number 2 which jointly held number 1 last year with Denmark.

Finland is ranked 3rd, Sweden at 4th and Norway at 5th in the world.

In the worst corrupt list, lawless Somalia and the Stalinist North Korea have maintained their last position 174th  in the world just like last year.

Omar al-Bashir's Sudan is the least ranked African country on the global rankings at number 173 making it the second most corrupt country in Africa followed by its break-away neighbour South Sudan at 171st and Libya at 166th.

The Corruption Perception Index is based on thousands of interviews Transparency International conducts with citizens of specific countries worldwide on how they perceive corruption in their country's public sector.

Paul Shalala Addresses Journalism Conference In Mozambique

Paul Shalala poses with Angolan and Mozambican journalists 
Fresh from picking up his second prize at the 2014 African Fact Checking Media Awards in Nairobi, Kenya on 14th November, 2014, ZNBC reporter Paul Shalala embarked on another international engagement, this time around in Mozambique.

Mr Shalala was invited, together with veteran Angolan journalist Mario Paiva, to address the International Conference on Communication and the Extractive Industry which had over 50 participants.

The two day conference was held from 28 to 29th November, 2014 in the Mozambican resort town of Bilene on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

The two visiting journalists shared their experiences in covering the extractive industries in their respective countries.

Sekelekani Communication for Development Executive Director Tomas Vieira Mario, who was the main organiser of the conference, said he invited Mr Shalala to speak at the conference because of his story on the impact of muti-national mining on local farmers in Zambia which won him the second prize of the 2014 Africa Fact Checking Media Awards.

Mr Mario, said he was impressed when he saw Mr Shalala receiving his award in Nairobi and coincidentally his international conference’s main objective was also on the mining industry which prompted him to invite the ZNBC reporter to his country to share his experiences on how he went about the story.

Below is the speech Mr Shalala delivered in his close to 30 minutes address on 29 November to a fully packed conference room which consisted of journalists from across Mozambique as well as local and international civil society organizations:


Muito obrigado

Bom dia.

I come from a country where more than 80% of our foreign exchange earnings is from mineral related transactions. Zambia is a mining country which is endowed with such minerals like copper, diamond, gold, gemstones and some yet to be exploited oil sittings in the western part of the country.

Just like my Angolan colleague Mario Paiva and my Mozambican colleague have lamented, the benefits of the extractive industries in our countries are yet to reach the common man on the ground.

To try and boost transparency in the mining industry, Zambia has joined the Extractive Industry Transparency Index (EITI) and annually, government releases figures of how much mines pay government in taxes.

Despite this, the public is still not aware of the contents of mining agreements which government enters with foreign investors in the mining sector.


WHY WE NEED INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM IN COVERING THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY

Normal journalism practice is not enough to highlight the progress, problems and happenings in the extractive industry.

We need investigative journalists to go deeper and expose the wrongs that players in this sector commit.

There are issues of environmental nature such oil spillages, corporate social responsibility and transparency which investigative reporters need to bring out in their in-depth stories.

Investigative journalism is also needed in this sector because it gives context to stories as reporters spend more time and resources to prepare stories that are way above the common copy and paste kind of journalism.


THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY

The role of the media in the extractive sector is to show the actual picture on the ground and raise awareness of the important issues prevailing in the areas where investments are being done.

The media is supposed to keep track of all the investments projects and the promises mining firms make to the indigenous people.

This is important as the public would want to know how far a specific project has gone and whether mining firms adhere to the promises they make to people they displace before investing in their areas.

Another role of the media in the extractive industry is to put the authorities and the investors to task over their actions in the sector.

If there are violation of human rights in the sectors, it is the role of the media to highlight such issues so that there is respect of the law in society.

                                                                                                                                       
CHALLENGES THE MEDIA FACES IN COVERING THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY

Like I have heard from the Angolan and Mozambican experiences, the Zambian media too faces the challenge of lacking specialized reporters to cover the extractive industry.

In Zambia, we also lack specialized journalism schools that train reporters to report specifically on the mining sector. Most reporters who report on this sector are usually journalists who have taken trainings in business reporting which is broad in nature.

Many good stories in the extractive industry need time and resources to be well investigated and produced. This calls for news organizations to give reporters enough time to do their stories and enough money to fund their logistics.

However, many editors do not consent to long term stories that would be gathered over a long period of time. They prefer short stories that can be published almost immediately.

Editors too would not commit money to a single story that would take long to be aired or published. This is because editors look at their short deadlines and want to ensure their bulletins or newspapers are full of copy everyday.

With the lack of Freedom of Information Law in Zambia, investigative reporters have the challenge of reporting on some aspects of the extractive industry due to the limitations of how far they can go in accessing some vital information.

For example, reporters can not put to task the Ministry of Finance the total money paid by a specific mining firm in a given district to government in taxes and how much of that money goes back to that town to improve the lives of the people who live side-by-side with the investor.

Am happy to hear that the Mozambican Parliament has passed the Freedom of Information Bill this week and my hope for you our colleagues in the media here in Mozambique is that this law will help you adequately inform the masses out there.


THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY

Am happy that this conference has attracted the civil society as these are a good partner to the media in the extractive industry.

The civil society is there to ensure that the people in areas where investors have established their projects are made aware of challenges they may face and their rights.

Specialized civil society organizations in the governance, environment and water sector are critical in ensuring that the extractive industry does not exploit the locals and that authorities play their games according to the laid down rules.

Paul Shalala on a panel of discussants at the conference
It is important that civil society organizations build alliances amongst themselves as fighting for people’s rights is a huge and expensive venture which a local NGO cannot do on its own with its meager resources.

When indigenous people have no resources to litigate over their rights, it is the duty of the civil society to jump in and act on their behalf.

In Zambia, some civil society organizations are in court fighting government after it authorized an Australian investor to set up a mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park despite a sharp reaction and protests from stakeholders.

It is such roles that the civil society is expected to play in the extractive industry to ensure a win-win situation between the locals and the investors.


RECOMMENDATIONS

I wish to encourage the sponsors of this conference WWF Mozambique and Sekelekani Communication for Development to brainstorm on the possibility of establishing annual media awards in the Mozambican extractive sector.

This will encourage more reporters to venture into this sector and specialize their reporting.

Secondly, stakeholders with the financial muscle must periodically sponsor study tours for reporters to visit mining sites and other places for them to get first hand account of the happenings in the area and report accurately.

Finally, I suggest that specialized workshops and trainings must be hosted from time to time to train a group of reporters to specifically report on the extractive sector.


Muito obrigado