girls' education in ZambiaYoung women in Zambia are lacking the proper education needed due to harsh poverty. Fortunately, a group called Global Samaritans is continuing education in orphanages and schools in the hopes of bettering girls’ education in Zambia and equipping these women with the tools they need in order to shape their own futures.

Global Samaritans is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of improving life for those in Zambia. Its goal is to provide Zambian children with access to the highest level of school they wish to pursue, Executive Director for Global Samaritans, Erin Porter, told The Borgen Project.

Issues with Girls’ Education in Zambia

Zambia is struggling to maintain enough schools for children that are eligible to attend, according to UNICEF. It is estimated that 1,500 classrooms need to be constructed each year in order for children to go to school in Zambia. Citizens that live in the rural areas of the country are less likely to go to school because they cannot afford school supplies.

Zambian women face these hardships even worse than men when trying to become educated because of gender stereotypes and inequalities. In rural areas, 27 percent of Zambian women are not educated, compared to men at 18 percent.

Despite girls having a higher school attendance rate than boys, illiteracy is 15 percent higher in girls. Zambian girls are also twice as likely to drop out than boys by grade seven because of socioeconomic problems, according to the World Bank.

Addressing Gender Stereotypes in Zambia

These women are prone to marrying young, getting pregnant early and staying at home, performing household tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Since boys are seen as more profitable to a family, they are more likely to be sent to school instead of girls. Diseases such as AIDs spread quickly throughout the country, causing poverty to heighten, which forces girls to either drop out of school or not go at all.

“Girls are the ones who suffer the most when it comes to education in Zambia,” Porter said. “Oftentimes, they are responsible for the home and Zambia suffers from water scarcity. So, if a young girl has to walk 30 minutes to an hour each way to collect water two times a day, that is vital time spent on domestic chores instead of attending school.”

How Good Samaritans is Helping

To help with this problem, Global Samaritans has set up an orphanage and a school so Zambian children can receive the education they deserve. The group built a high school in 2010 called the Global Samaritans High School to provide children a secondary level education, helping achieve girls’ education in Zambia.

Children attend a government school from grades one through seven and then attend boarding schools after that, which can be costly due to fees, uniforms and school supplies. Global Samaritans High School provides children two more years of education at a nominal fee, Porter said.

The high school works hand-in-hand with the orphanage to allow a higher level of girls’ education in Zambia. For the girls who fall pregnant at a young age, the orphanage welcomes them back to learn and holds informational meetings about the importance of girls’ education in Zambia, Marriam Konga, orphanage administrator, said.

“I am proud to say that as an orphanage, we have been able to raise girls into adults today, some of whom are working as teachers and nurses and are already making a change in the communities around them,” Konga said. Global Samaritans will continue to work toward improving the lives of young women in Zambia and lowering the level of poverty in the African nation.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

education in zambia
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

Sources: Zambian, UNICEF, Zambia Scholarship Fund
Photo: Post Zambia