An interview with Dr. Justin Lupele, Chief of Party, WASH Project in Zambia. He is part of an expert panel at the upcoming 2014 African EduWeek on “Educating in today’s social and economic climate: Best approaches for educational challenges.” This interview first appeared on the African EduWeek 2014 website here.
1) Please can you give us some background on your organisation and your role? SPLASH is a five-year USAID-funded project that aims to reach 246,000 primary school pupils in four districts of Eastern Province, Zambia (Mambwe, Chipata, Lundazi, and Chadiza). SPLASH is implemented by WASHplus, which is managed by FHI 360 as a prime and CARE as a sub-grantee. The project works within the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training, and Early Education (MESVTEE) and other line ministries such as Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) and Ministry of Health (MOH). SPLASH’s overall objective is to sustainably improve access to safe water, adequate sanitation, hygiene information and health practices to improve learning environments and educational performance in basic schools. The overall objective will be achieved by means of the following five key task areas:
- Install and rehabilitate improved WASH infrastructure in schools using a service-delivery framework
- Improve hygiene behaviors and health of learners and teachers and subsequently their communities
- Strengthen local governance and coordination of WASH in Schools through the involvement of multiple stakeholders
- Engage those who set policies at the national, provincial, and district levels to support WASH in Schools
- Strengthen the capacity of small-scale service providers and the private sector to deliver WASH goods and services on a sustainable basis.
I am the Chief of Party/Project Director.
2) What education focused projects are you involved in that you are particularly excited about? The project is involved in hygiene education. I am particularly interested in menstrual hygiene management education. Through this programme we are enabling hundreds of girl children that have reached puberty to attend class as we encourage the provision of sanitary towels and washrooms for girls to manage their menses and continue to attend classes.
3) What in your view are the main challenges in education in Africa? The main challenge of education in Africa is the low investment by most countries. The national budgets on education are very low – in most cases less than 20% of the total budget. Deployment of qualified teachers, often trained at the country’s expense is another challenge. In the efforts of reducing wage bills, trained teachers are not being employed. This results in having schools that are managed by untrained teachers. HIV/AIDS has also contributed to the attrition of teachers.
4) What surprises you about your work? I am surprised at my work that ministries of education in Africa and other discussions around quality of education do not tackle water and sanitation as one of the factors that contribute to education quality.
5) You are part of an expert panel on socio-economic issues in the education at African EduWeek. What will be your message at EduWeek this year? My message will be to urge participants and governments in Africa to look at education quality holistically and to invest in water, sanitation and hygiene education. 6) What are you most looking forward to at African EduWeek? I am looking forward to learning from others, insights on how to improve learner attendance, especially girl children in rural Africa, and ways of lobbying governments to increase funding to education.