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Education in Zambia

The government of Zambia is committed to allocating more resources to the education sector in order to expand access to primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Education is seen as a major factor in fighting poverty and hunger.

The goal of the education sector is to increase equitable access to quality education and skills training to enhance human capacity for sustainable national development.

The National Implementation Framework III’s (NIF II) primary goal is to enhance human capacity by improving quality education and skills training,. with particular attention to raising learning achievement levels and mitigating inequities and inefficiencies.

Despite increases in student enrollment and completion rates at the basic school level, quality remains low. This reflects challenges in teacher quality and supply, teaching and learning materials, and school governance.

The ministry of general education (MoGE) has set nine objectives in the NIF III period:

  1. Increase access, efficiency, and equity to quality early childhood education (ECE) and primary education:
    • Secure better ECE services through new guidelines and standards to ensure that all children aged 3-6 years have equitable access to ECE.
    • Introduce free and compulsory education for all learners Grades 1-7.
    • Develop comprehensive and integrated curriculum for primary grades.
  2. Increase access, efficiency, and equity to quality secondary school education:
    • Reintroduce free and compulsory education for all learners for Grades 8-12.
    • Strengthen gender equity and parity within the secondary school education system.
    • Reorient curriculum to emphasize life skills, labor market, and self-employment needs.
  3. Increase the number of qualified and competent teachers in schools:
    • Provide quality and development-oriented teacher education programs ensuring that graduates are properly equipped with subject-knowledge and pedagogical skills.
    • Expand teacher education capacity through the public sector and provide incentives for private sector participation.
    • Reduce teacher absenteeism to increase student-teacher contact time.
  4. Increase access to science, technology, and innovation:
    • Prioritize teaching science and technological subjects at all education levels.
    • Promote research, innovation, and collaboration between industry and research institutions.
  5. Increase access, participation, and equity in the provision of quality university education:
    • Increase equitable access to university education and improve the relevance of programs offered at institutions.
    • Increase university involvement in research and development.
  6. Increase efficiency and equitable access to technical education, vocational, and entrepreneurship trainings (TEVET):
    • Improve and expand facilities for teaching science and technical subjects including creating technical schools, colleges, and universities.
    • Promote collaboration between industry and TEVET institutions.
  7. Increase adult literacy levels:
    • Expand educational facilities and vocational training
    • Raise awareness of adult literacy programs to increase access to youth and adult literacy education services.
  8. Expand and improve infrastructure through the construction of new facilities and rehabilitation of existing ones:
    • Promote community participation at primary, secondary, and tertiary level institutions in the development of infrastructure.
    • Provide safe learning environment for all learners through reintroducing boarding facilities.
  9. Review the curriculum at all levels to make it relevant and responsive to national aspirations and education needs.

In order to implement NIF III, the government has set a number of strategic priorities. These include nurturing strong partnerships with educational service providers, systemic restructuring and management capacity enhancement, and providing formal and alternative modes of education delivery.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent
Program implementation 2013-2018 35,200,000 17,664,000 DfID
2009-2011 60,200,000 60,200,000 Netherlands
Sector plan development 2016 498,391 498,391 UNICEF
  TOTAL 95,898,391 78,362,391  


Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.


Primary completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

GPE in Zambia

13-year-old girl attends grade 7 at Sanjogo school in Zambia. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

The latest GPE grant of US$35.2 million provides sector budget support to the ministry of general education (MoGE) along with the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) to fund implementation of sector strategies, and the full implementation of the NIF III, through the annual work plans and budgets.

The objective of the GPE support is to have increased achievement in learning for boys and girls by increasing equitable access to quality education and skills training to enhance human capacity for sustainable national development.

In addition to this grant, the GPE support provides technical assistance to the ministry to strengthen sector management, financial oversight and monitoring & evaluation activities.

The three main components supported by GPE funding are:

  1. Supporting performance based grants linked to milestones. These milestones are:
    • improved girls’ access to quality education and equity between boys, girls, and disabled or vulnerable populations
    • improved teaching and learning of basic literacy and numeracy skills
    • enhanced government ability to allocate and manage its domestic resources to achieve results.
  2. Providing technical assistance for training, strengthening sector management, capacity building, and the MoGE’s financial management capabilities.
  3. Supporting program supervision, monitoring, and evaluation to improve the collection, analysis, and utilization of data for planning and budgeting. MoGE leads this program in partnership with DFID, the grant agent, and Irish Aid and UNICEF, the coordinating agencies.

Source: DFID program document. February 2013


Over the past year, several contextual factors have affected the education sector in Zambia. One of them, the national elections of August 2016 disrupted the flow of work at all levels of government for several months. Yet, the current GPE grant has contributed to the following results:

  • In lower secondary, the percentage of students who have completed grade 9 has increased from 64.5% in 2015 to 68.8% in 2016,
  • The percentage of students transitioning from junior to senior secondary has increased from 46.2% in 2015 to 49% in 2016,
  • The 2015 Education Sector Statistical Bulletin was disseminated, and data were used to generate the education sector analysis (ESA) and is being used to develop the new education sector plan,
  • All 125 district statistical officers that manage the distribution of the Annual School Census and data entry in districts were trained on data entry software,
  • 4,162 primary and secondary schools have implemented school-based continuous professional development (SBCPD),
  • An additional 3,407 qualified preschool teachers were certified,
  • An additional 3,368 teachers hold early childhood education diploma,
  • 6,298 secondary school teachers hold Bachelor’s degree.

Source: Annual Review of the DFID and GPE-funded Education Sector Budget Support Programme. July 2017

Last updated January 16, 2018