Zambia country profile.

Official Name: Republic of Zambia.
Area: 752,614 sq. km. (290,585 sq. mi.)
Cities: Capital -- Lusaka (pop. 982,00).
Other Cities: Kitwe (348,000), Ndola (500,000, Livingstone (83,000), Kabwe (381,000).
Terrain: Varies; mostly plateua savanna.
Climate: Generally dry and temperate.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Zambian(s).
Population (1999): 10 million.
Annual growth rate: 3.1%.
Ethnic groups: More than 70 tribal groups.
Religions: Christian, indigenous beliefs.
Languages: English (official), about 70 local languages and dialects, including Bemba, Tonga, Nyanja, Lozi, Luvale, Ndembu (Lundu), and Kaonde.
Education: Years compulsory--7., Attendance--Less than 50% in grades 1-7.
Less than 20% of primary school graduates are admitted to secondary school.
Health: Infant mortality rate--109/1,000. Life expectancy--43.5 yrs. male; 47 yrs. female.
Work force: Agriculture--60. Industry and commerce--40%.
Government, Type: Republic.
Independence: October 24, 1964.

Education: A long-standing educational goal in Zambia has been that every child who enters Grade 1 should be able to complete Grade 9. This aspiration goes back to the time of the struggle for independence when the nationalist movement established the goal that every Zambian should be able to complete at least a junior secondary education. In later years this crystallized as ten years of compulsory schooling for every child, but the 1977 Educational Reforms reduced this to nine years. The structure proposed in 1977 was that eventually every primary school would extend its offerings up to Grade 9, so that there would be a continuous programme from Grade 1 to Grade 9, with the curriculum organized on the basis of six years of primary and three years of junior secondary education. The education to be provided during these nine years was referred to in the 1977 and subsequent documents as "basic education".

The rationale for proposing this extended period of education was twofold. Basic education was to provide general education in basic subjects, skills training and productive work. Thereby, it was seen as enabling pupils to chieve a standard of functional education which would equip them to live productively in society, and to possess occupational competence in a skill or group of skills. In other words, its aim was to provide general education, including some practical skills and a sound preparation for further education (full-time or part-time). Secondly, it was seen that nine years of compulsory education would allow pupils to grow two years older before they would have to fend for themselves in the world of work, if they did not continue with full-time education or training. It was believed that on completion of nine years of schooling the learner would be more mature when facing career or educational choices, and would base these on a fuller realization and understanding of his or her abilities, talents and interests.

It was recognized in 1977 and subsequently that the achivement of nine years of full-time education for all would take a long time. Financial constraints did not allow the government to proceed vigorously with the provision of additional facilities to make this goal a reality. Ongoing efforts to expand secondary provision brought about some increase in the number proceeding from Grade 7 to Grade 8, but because of the rapid growth in Grade 7 enrollments, the numbers leaving the school system on completion of Grade 7 increased very rapidly.

This situation prompted communities to adapt or provide facilities in primary schools for the commencement of Grade 8 and Grade 9 classes. Thus began the "basic schools movement" which has gathered momentum over the years. The number of basic schools rose from 51 in 1986 to 399 in 1994, and their number continues to grow. Their contribution to educational provision can be gauged from the fact that they now account for more than half the Grade 8 entry.

In two respects, this popular movement has set the stage for the future development of education in Zambia: it sets down a major parameter for the structure of the education system, and it points to the all-important role of the community in educational provision.

The Current Structure of the Education System:

Currently Zambia's formal education system has a 7-5-4 structure, with seven years of primary education (four years of lower and three years of upper primary), five years of secondary (two years of junior and three years of senior secondary), and four years of university to first degree level. Transition from lower to higher educational levels is determined by national competitive examinations at the end of Grades 7, 9 and 12.

Historically, primary and secondary education were offered in separate institutions, but this changed with the development of basic schools which provide the first nine years of schooling. This means that currently there are two parallel but related paths for educational progression after Grade 7: some pupils proceed into Grade 8 in a basic school, while others proceed into conventional secondary schools that run from Grade 8 to Grade 12. All, however, must have performed well in the selection examination held at the end of Grade 7, since there is room in Grade 8 for only one-third of those who complete Grade 7.

Zambia has had almost thirty years experience of using English as the medium of instruction from Grade 1 onwards.

Higher Education in Zambia:

The University of Zambia, which is the older and larger of the two public universities, has nine schools, Agricultural Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, Law, Medicine, Mines, Natural Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine. The Copperbelt University has four schools, Business Studies, Environmental Studies, Forestry & Wood Sciences and Technology. Both universities offer diploma and first degree programs. In addition, the University of Zambia offers postgraduate programs.

The universities derive their income from an annual government grant, student fees, and income-generating undertakings. Approximately two-thirds of their annual income comes from government grants which are based on a formula that involves staff-student ratios. The universities also enjoy substantial donor assistance in terms of donor-supported staff and direct donor inputs, amounting to the equivalent of as much as 40% of total annual costs per student.

The two universities have done much to meet society's needs for high level human resources as evidenced by the statistics. When Zambia became independent in 1964, the country had a total of only 107 university graduates. When the older university, the University of Zambia, was established in 1966, it opened its doors to 310 students. By 1994, however, the two unviersities had a total enrollment of almost 6,000 students, 4,592 at the university of Zambia and 1,393 at the Copperbelt University, and cumulatively had awarded more than 16,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates.

Grading System for Secondary School:

One = Distinction
Two = Distinction
Three = Merit
Four = Merit
Five = Credit
Six = Credit
Seven = Satisfactory
Eight = Satisfactory
Nine = Unsatisfactory

Grading System for university:

A+ = Distinction
A = Distinction
B+ = Meritorious
B = Very Satisfactory
S = Satisfactory
C+ = Definite Pass
P = Pass
C = Bare Pass
CP = Compensatory Pass
D+ = Bare Fail
D = Clear Fail
E = Worthless


Prepared by:

Patricia M. Namala
Cultural Affairs Assistant
Public Affairs Section
American Center
P.O. Box 32053
Lusaka, Zambia
Tel: 260-1-227993/4 Fax: 260-1-226523