A landlocked country in Southern Africa, Zambia shares borders with eight other African countries. According to a national census conducted in 2010, the majority of Zambia’s population is predominately located in rural areas (61 percent) and just under half (45.4 percent) are young people below the age of 15. Economic progress since independence has been uneven, though recent strides in real GDP growth have been remarkable and Zambia is transitioning from a poorer country to an expansive lower-middle income country.


Main barriers to education

  • Shortage of Schools in Rural Areas
  • Early/Forced Marriage

Interventions to barriers:

  • Establishment of New Schools
  • Community Engagement & Sensitisation
  • Teacher Training

In light of Zambia’s population demographics and the government’s commitment to achieving the goals of EFA, the country has taken veritable steps towards increasing access to the education sector. For instance in 2002, the government announced the Free Primary Education (FPE) initiative, which abolished school fees, barred schools from denying children entry due to a lack of a uniform and obliged schools to invite dropouts back without hassle. Some sources credit the FPE with increasing access to more than 1.2 million more school-age children.

Although access to primary education in Zambia has grown exponentially, disparities remain, particularly in rural settings. In fact, a 2014 UNCEF report on OOSC as well as the 2013 Education Statistical Bulletin from the Ministry of Education equally cited distances exceeding ten kilometres as a typical access barrier for children in rural areas and those with disabilities. In addition, there is a shortage of qualified teachers nationally; however, urban schools tend to have more teachers than necessary.

To address these challenges, EAC has partnered with Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS). Through the Community Action project, ZOCS will increase access and the provision of quality education to 175,000 OOSC over the course of five years.  Across the country, the project will directly target children: who previously enrolled in school, but have since dropped out; with no access to school at all; and those who have access, but are not enrolled. Specifically, ZOCS intends to conduct community engagement and sensitisation campaigns on the importance of education to reach the parents of OOSC, with a particular emphasis on girls and disabled children. Project activities will also include advocating for the deployment of trained teachers to target schools, administering school-feeding programmes for approximately 2,000 students and providing start-up capital to impoverished community schools for more effective school management. 

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Community Action for OOSC in Zambia

Community Action for OOSC in Zambia

At present, Zambian children’s access to primary education is thwarted by a range of barriers, such as distances exceeding five kilometres between school and home (particularly in rural areas), poverty, early/forced marriage, gender discrimination and a lack of and inappropriate school infrastructure disproportionately impacting those with special needs and disabilities. The disparity in education access is especially pronounced between rural and urban settings, wherein 23 per cent of primary-aged children in rural areas versus 9 per cent in urban centres are out of school.


Zambia Open Community Schools

EAC and Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS), in partnership, aim to reach 175,000 out of school children (OOSC) with quality primary education.