Limited or absent services
Services aimed at tackling HIV and AIDS and dealing with the multiple causes and effects of poverty usually depend on trained personnel. Today in Zambia there is a 50 per cent capacity gap in health care staff and teachers, many essential staff at all levels having been affected by HIV and AIDS, and many others following the “brain drain” route and leaving the country for employment elsewhere.
Schools are struggling to meet the needs of Zambian children. At least 1,500 classrooms per year need to be constructed to accommodate all those eligible. Lowered enrollment rates result from this lack of school places and the long distances needed to travel when schools are in rural areas. Quality of teaching, with so few trained teachers within the educational system, is an issue of concern.
Parents are committed to educating their children but the distance to school and poverty levels mean that poor households cannot manage the cost of students’ uniform and supplies, despite the introduction in Zambia of free basic education to 7th grade.
Although overall the enrollment rate is an encouraging 95 per cent this is affected by the fact that levels of educational attainment remain poor, with only around one-third of students reaching the anticipated levels at grade six. Drop out rates increase through the years, with girls less likely to complete their primary education than boys.
Enrollment age for children in school is 7. The early childhood years are currently largely a missed opportunity for stimulating children’s psycho-cognitive development through creative play-based activities.
In rural areas, an estimated 4.6 million people do not have access to safe water supplies, most depending on water drawn from rivers, lakes and unprotected wells. 3.7 million rural people do not have access to adequate sanitation.
This situation threatens health, especially amongst infants and children, and adds considerably to the workload of women and girls, who carry heavy loads of water over long distances.