At a glance, the educational system in the Republic of Zambia is not that different from the system in the Western world. Children can be taught in grades one through 12, and there are even opportunities for higher education. The major difference between education in Zambia and the Western world lies in access to adequate schooling.
There are 7,368 schools in the country, and yet a quarter million children do not attend one. According to UNICEF, 47 percent of those enrolled in school eventually drop out. This could be due to the fact that school is only free up until the seventh grade. While 80 percent of the children take advantage of the free education when they can, only seven percent manage to continue that education once a fee is required.
Even when it is free, the education in Zambia is lacking. There are not enough teachers to go around, leaving up to 20 percent of students without a regular teacher. Teachers are not the only scarcity in Zambia; basic supplies like books, pencils, chalk and even chairs are rare.
Without proper education, Zambia will remain in economic distress, as 92 percent of the citizens are unemployed. When 78 percent of citizens live on less than a dollar a day, paying for the necessary education is almost impossible. It is a vicious cycle of poverty for the people of Zambia.
Not being educated can affect life in more ways than one: many Zambians are not informed on HIV/AIDS protection among other basic life skills to increase livelihood. As of right now, the average life expectancy for a citizen of Zambia is 36—the lowest life expectancy in the world.
Combating this poverty is a large task, but improving Zambia’s education is a good start. With better education, Zambians can not only live more prosperous lives, they can have lives, period. If Zambia is aided with what could be considered the simplest of things—pencils, books and teachers—the life of an average Zambian could look very different than it looks today. Their education is very much linked to their livelihood, so aiding their schooling does not just improve their knowledge—it can save lives.
– Melissa Binns