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UNICEF/Zambia - 2011/Nalungwe
© UNICEF Zambia/2011/Nalungwe
New grade seven class at Mukumba Community School in Luapula Province supported by UNICEF

Increasing access to quality basic education for all children

Education is not only a human right, but it is also an essential tool for individuals to break the poverty cycle and to building the human capital of nations.  Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world and is home to 6 million children under the age of 18 of which 4 million children are of the primary school age (7-14).

Though Zambia made commendable progress in increasing access and gender parity, more than a quarter million children are out of school and 47 per cent of those enrolled in school do not complete the primary cycle.

The current UNICEF country programme (2011-2015) focuses on capacity and systems strengthening for improvement of quality of education, equity in participation and progression from pre-primary to primary and lower secondary education, particularly for girls, rural children, and other excluded groups.

HIV prevention and behavioral change are promoted through life skills programme for children who are in school and out of school.

The programme has three results areas:

  • Early Childhood Care and Development Education (ECCDE)
  • Quality Basic Education
  • HIV and AIDS and Life Skills Education

© UNICEF Zambia/2010/Senkwe
UNICEF constructed Myengele Community School in Kawambwa District, Luapula Province

Early Childhood Care and Development Education (ECCDE)

UNICEF is providing support to help the GRZ promote Early Childhood Care and Development Education (ECCDE) for children aged six and below. Children who participate in early childhood education are more likely to enroll and remain in primary school (and achieve better results) than those who cannot access comprehensive early childhood care. UNICEF supports establishment of child-friendly early learning centers, developing national curriculum and learning and development standards, and training of teachers and care givers. More than 40 centers are providing school readiness instruction to 7,000 children in 5 districts. ECCDE centers are also entry points for monitoring child health and nutrition.

Quality Basic Education

Since the introduction of the free basic education policy in 2002, enrolment in basic education levels has steadily increased. However, children from poor households, rural children and girls are the last to enrol in school and the first to drop out, and are significantly underrepresented in the upper grades of basic education as well as the secondary level. UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education, civil society, and communities to ensure that children and adolescents are able to develop, learn and participate in a protective, inclusive and child-friendly enabling environments.

At the national level, support include training of teachers and school administrators on inclusive education, interactive teaching and other classroom subjects; technical assistance for curriculum and student assessment reviews; and advocacy for policy and systemic reforms.

At sub-national level, community schools that serve rural and marginalized children are the priority for UNICEF support: 10,000 children are learning in 60 newly constructed child-friendly classrooms with clean water and gender sensitive sanitation facilities and more than 20,000 pupils have received adequate teaching learning materials, while 306 community School teachers (146 male, 160 female) have benefited from professional training on teaching skills.

HIV and AIDS and Life Skills Education

As part of UNICEF’s strategy to fight HIV and AIDS among youth, the programme includes Life Skills Education as a methodology assisting learners to have comprehensive knowledge on HIV prevention and risk reduction skills. At national level, UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Education in the development of Life Skills materials for grades 1 to 9, development and implementation of HIV workplace policy and capacity development of teachers in life skills provision. As of 2009, 60 per cent of the basic schools were providing life skills to learners.

Through NGOs UNICEF supports interventions that include life-skills through sports and peer to peer counselling which reaches over 500, 000 children in and out of school with life skills and HIV prevention messages in 6 provinces.



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