|Before Christian missionaries set up schools in
the 19th and early 20th centuries, a Zambian child's education took place
in the village, under the mother's supervision. The whole community taught
children the roles they would play as adults. Girls learned to care for
younger brothers and sisters and to do household chores. Boys spent time
with the village men, learning to farm, hunt or fish.
has a young population with many children to educate. Half the population
is age 15 or younger.
|In rural areas, this traditional form of learning
is still important. But one of the government's first priorities at independence
was universal classroom education. When the new nation was created in 1964,
only 100 Zambians had a university degree and only 1,000 had finished high
school. Most people could not read or write. The British colonial government
had spent little money on education. There were several mission schools,
mostly in the cities, but few secondary schools and no colleges or universities.
|The government immediately began building schools.
By 1971, the enrolment in the early grades had doubled, and by 1984, more
than 100,000 students were in high school. The University of Zambia in
Lusaka opened in 1966 and Copperbelt University in 1989. Today, Zambia
has 14 teacher training colleges and 21 trade and technical schools. Adult
literacy centres have been set up, and educational radio programs reach
remote areas. Now about three-quarters of the adult population can read
All students must pay for uniforms, textbooks
and other supplies. They must also pay a fee before writing exams. Many
large families cannot afford these costs. School-aged children sometimes
have to wait two or three years until the family has enough money to send
them to school. Some children live too far from the nearest school to attend.
|Primary school begins at age seven and lasts seven
years. Students then write a difficult exam to find out whether they can
go on to further education. After two years, they write a second exam before
they can continue with the last three years of secondary education. As
secondary schools have space for only a small number of students, the passing
grade on these exams is high. Children study very hard to win one of the
few places. In the past, boys often received more education than girls
did. To correct this imbalance, the government has made the passing grade
lower for girls.
|The language of instruction is usually
English, but students learn to read and write in their own languages as
well. Teachers emphasize Zambian history and culture, and use Zambian textbooks
help Zambia feed itself, the government requires all schools to have a
garden. Students learn how to grow fruits and vegetables.