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Zambia - Summary

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceZambia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


At independence Zambia had one of the most poorly developed education systems of Britain's former colonies with just 109 university graduates and less than 0.5 percent of the population estimated to have completed primary education. The country has since invested heavily in education at all levels, and well over 90 percent of children ages 7 to 13 attend school.

On the whole, Zambia has made some progress towards achieving universal primary education and increased participation in secondary and higher education. However one of the biggest challenges for Zambia's policymakers is to make education accessible to every school child in the face of increasing poverty and a rising demand for cost sharing. Government expenditure on education remained at roughly 10 percent of the total national budget and 2 percent of the GDP. Both were below the targeted levels, 15 percent of total government expenditure and some 4 percent of the GDP. Indications are that children from low-income families are more likely to dropout of school than those from higher-income families. The country cannot afford to teach its children. Consequently the cost of sending children to school falls upon the parents. Many poor families can't pay for the school fees, uniforms, books, and pencils. Seventy percent of Zambians live below the poverty line (McCulloch et al. 2000). There is a need to prioritize and redirect resources that are being freed from debt reduction to be allocated to education. There is a need to relieve the poor of the burden of fees and cost sharing measures by making education free of direct cost for the impoverished.

There is still a gender gap in education, particularly in rural areas, and an overall gap between enrollments in urban and rural areas. There is a need to eliminate imbalances by achieving parity in gender and urban/rural education. This can be achieved by specifically implementing policy measures that address these inequities through increased partnership and the involvement of communities, NGOs, the private sector, and donors in educational provision.

Although there is a recognized need and a high demand for increased activity in basic education, the government has conventionally prioritized higher-level education in its allocation of resources. It is important that basic education receives an increased allocation of resources.

Zambia's education system is also greatly suffering because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is important that Zambia's education sector continues to vigorously pursue an education policy that fully incorporates HIV/AIDS prevention both to students and staff.


Achola, Paul P., "Implementing Educational Policies in Zambia." World Bank Discussion Paper 90. Washington D.C.: World Bank, 1990.

Chela, Fred. "Zambia Basic education sector goes for higher heights." Times of Zambia, (25 October 1999. Available from http://allafrica.com/.

Government of Zambia. Education Sector Support Program. Phase II, 1996-1999. Project Document. Lusaka, 1995.

——. Ministry of Education. Investing in Our People—Integrated Education Sector Investment Program. Lusaka, 1996.

McCulloch, N., B. Baulch, and M. Cherel-Robson. Globalization, Poverty and Inequality in Zambia During the 1990s. OECD Development Center, 2000.

Saluseki, Bivan. "Zambia's Education System Is A Time Bomb." Post of Zambia (21 April 2000). Available from http://allafrica.com/.

Silanda, Emmanuel M., Geoffrey Lungwangwa, Dickson Mwansa, Martin Kamwengo, Getrude Mwape, and Lawrence Mukuka. Education for all 2000 Assessment: Country Zambia - 1999. Lusaka: Ministry of Education, 1999.

Phiri, Brighton. "Zambia's education is inadequate." Post of Zambia (25 June 1999).

UNESCO. Education Data Base, 2001. Available from http://www.UNESCO.org.

World Bank 1997: Zambia. Basic Education Sub sector Investment Program. Preparation Mission. Draft Aide-Memoire, 20 October - 13 November 1997.

World Bank 1998: Zambia. Basic Education Sub sector Investment Program. Pre-appraisal Mission. Draft Aide-Memoire, 3 - 19 February 1998.

World Bank. "Zambia to Receive US$3.8 billion in Debt Service Relief for Zambia Under the HIPC Initiative." World Bank News (8 December 2000).

—Gladys Mutangadura

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