Zambia’s minister of education, Dora Siliya, has lately been using her Facebook profile to announce important policy changes in the government. Siliya is also the spokesperson of the political party that is in power right now, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
Zambia is a republic in the middle of Southern Africa; surrounding it are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, and Tanzania, among others. The World Bank named the country one of the world’s fastest economically reforming countries in 2010.
When Siliya announced a series of reforms that increase kids’ access to classes in the country, comments were both negative and positive. The changes are regarding the Academic Production Unit, through which elementary schools offer a secondary school education to youth who fail to enter high school.
Children in these situations have to pay the school nominal fees, which the elementary school uses to cover extra costs. So far the government had stayed away from supporting these kinds of classes, but now it seems they will begin to support them, said Siliya.
Siliya is currently approaching the maximum number of Facebook friend allowed, 5,000. If you consider that the main newspapers in Zambia have a circulation of 10,000, then her social media presence is very strong.
However, according to Internet World Stats, out of Zambia’s 12 million population, only seven have Internet access, and only 0.6 percent use Facebook, meaning about 65,000 people. So it’s interesting that Siliya uses the social network to announce changes in policies knowing that most people will never receive the news that way.
Do you think Siliya is right to use nontraditional ways to relate government information or should she look for ways that are better suited for Zambia’s population?