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Saturday, 13 October 2007

'strange' no more!

The strange case of the "missing data" is no more! A while back we spent some time trying to track the latest data on the proportion of students in higher education on various programmes, with a special focus on agriculture. We were rightly concerned when the 1997/8 picture showed a pitiful 2% of students studied the subject. It was apparent that despite having lots of land and emphasis on agriculture production, this has not been matched by investment in necessary agriculture focused education.

Luckily the Ministry of Science and Technology's new website now seem to possess some latest information. The Ministry undertook a survey in September 2005 to collect statistical information pertaining to the Technical Education Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) sector. [The survey covered all provinces. Out of 314 institutions registered by TEVETA in 2004, 243 responded to the questionnaire representing a response rate of about 77%.] The TEVET Statistics Digest provides data for the 2004 for all TEVET Institutions in Zambia - (TEVET level does not include first degree and above). The data covers all of the higher education institutions except UNZA (check the appendices for the details). You can access it here.
I have constructed a quick bar chart above to show enrolment by programme / discipline in 2004. Its clear agriculture is still languishing. Only 2.7% of students at TEVET level enrolled to study agriculture in 2005. Our earlier concerns appear justified. Very little has indeed changed in recent years.


  1. why should i send my child to study agriculture when the people making money are lawyers?

    if the farmers can't make profits then then it's a waste of time. maybe the whole country should starve for people to recognise how important this field is.

    it affects the inflation,rates name it .

    as different people with diverse disciplines we must accept the importance of other fields.

    everything is a system and every component is vital.

  2. "why should i send my child to study agriculture when the people making money are lawyers?" - Anonymous

    The bar chart above is based on "enrolment". The enrolment figures refer to the total count of the number of students in the TEVET system. This count is very important in that it measures the total holding capacity of the TEVET system. For agriculture this is at 2.7% as I have explained above.

    There's another interesting figure called the "admissions" figure. This refers to informationon the number of places that are available ANNUALLY for
    new entrants.
    It therefore measures annual capacity of the system.

    Table 3 in the Digest shows that for agriculture the number of places available annually were 3.8%.

    The point is that Agriculture does not even have the "annual places" it should be having. There are not enough places on the system to allow people to study agriculture.

    The question is therefore what can Government do encourage more places related to agriculture? The other issue of course relates to QUALITY of the education. We need not only expand places, but teach subjects that allows people to stand on their own two feet. Agriculture and other practical subjects can do that. Teaching people subjects that requires them to work for someone else do not add much to the system because of the brain drain problem.

    So whilst all subjects are important some are more important than others.

  3. okay you have answered my sorry self.

    well here is my scenario, gov. sends it's students to europe for studyiing in agriculture and succesfull farmers have realtives coming from studies to take up work.

    you think we have a system under teveta for studies,well think again.

    you are seated while you create opions about data which could be wrong??

    is there any kickbacks in farming ??

    until zambians can be forced to pay for the costs that the farmer incurs during production,then we have a live system.

  4. CHO
    "The question therefore is what government can do to encourage more places related to agriculture. The other issue of course relates to the quality of the education”

    It could start by having a coherent and practical educational policy for a start!

    What we have at the moment is a mishmash of platitudes and wishful thinking masquerading as vocational training policy.
    Firstly, there needs to be recognition of the RELEVANCE and QUALITY of vocational training provided. It is a no brainer to suggest that government needs to invest in, and promote agricultural training and other core areas relevant to the Zambian situation (ICT, construction or social care etc)

    In term of agriculture, it is surely in the interest of government to devise , provide and promote agricultural training. They have to find a way of making agriculture training ‘sexy’ or worthwhile. They could do this by starting a Kaunda style ‘back to land’ campaign .They could also propagate the benefits of agriculture (people like to know what is in it for them)

    Furthermore , incentives such as bursaries for training or even small start up loans on completion of agricultural training could be considered. As the TEVET list shows, one cannot expect private colleges to provide training in unpopular or courses perceived as ‘low status’( a pet hate of mine as I believe any training is valuable) , private colleges are more likely to provide for the more popular courses , after all they are chasing the kwacha.

    As for Quality, It broke my heart when I visited Nortec in Ndola to see a young relative that I sponsor, it is a testimony to the young people’s determination that they learn anything at all. The college lacks equipments, the machinery is out- dated and the lecturers are de-motivated (at least the ones I talked to) but no one seems to care.

    In the private sector, the so called “Computer science colleges” offer courses that could be termed ‘introduction to I.T’ in the UK, but the same courses are been offered with convoluted titles(e.g. Cambridge computer programming technology, blah ,blah, blah!) without anybody questioning them.

    I am not aware of any educational standards board in Zambia(please let me know if we have one or similar) that regulates private institutions or that monitors performance in general , if there is one , then it is obviously doing a very poor job. Zambia needs an independent educational quality control board badly.

    Lastly , I don’t think that all these failures can be attributed to the scarntity of resources ….or a lack of desire to learn(Young Zambians WANT to learn)I think that they are largely due to lack of imagination on the part of our policy makers.

  5. Anonymous,

    I agree with you that at the moment Zambian farmers, especially those engaged in maize don't always get the fair share of the price. The FRA dictates the price and even worse fails to pay the farmers at the right time. But there are plenty of other farming activities that may be even more profitable than maize and could raise the income of farmers. Greater investment in education could help develop the knowledge of farmers in these areas and expose them to new activities.

  6. "Lastly , I don’t think that all these failures can be attributed to the scarntity of resources ….or a lack of desire to learn(Young Zambians WANT to learn)I think that they are largely due to lack of imagination on the part of our policy makers." - Pandawe

    Valid points indeed.
    Especially your last one!
    You have hit the nail on the head.

    It is easy to see that Government has not taken education seriously. The easiest way to see this is what share of GDP is spent on education, and then compare to other nations. The blog here has the numbers. In 2000 Zambia was one of the lowest spenders on education (2% of GDP). Infact this position hasn't changed!

    Now it is okay to say "we have no money", but there's no excuse for not spending the little we have on the things that matter most!

  7. I found this very interestin file on organic agriculture in Africa:

    According to them, Zambia is has the second highest amount of hectares under organic agriculture in Africa, second only to Sudan.


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