COVID-19 response

A US$10 million grant supports interventions that promote continuous learning for students during the stay-at-home orders following the virus outbreak, and a safe learning environment across the country when schools re-open.

Allocation: US$10 million

Years: 2020-2022

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key documents:

The funding supports:

  • strengthening the ministry's existing distance learning system by supporting the development of radio learning programs
  • distributing solar radios to vulnerable students - including girls and children from low-income households - to ensure they have access to distance learning content
  • training teachers on providing support and promoting engagement with students through distance learning
  • training teachers on using simple technologies to monitor students’ performance, helping those at risk of dropping out of school
  • giving incentives – including free learning materials – to vulnerable students once schools reopen to encourage them to return to school
  • providing clean water (boreholes) to remote schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • accelerated learning modules to quickly bring children up to their grade level
  • remedial learning for students who struggle.

These activities are based on the Ministry of Education COVID-19 response plan.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Zambia received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education with planning its COVID-19 response.

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.

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Latest grant

Development objective: Improve equitable access and quality learning conditions in early childhood education in targeted areas.
Allocation: US$39,836,000
Years: 2021-2025
Grant agent: WB
Utilization: US$3,789,548

The GPE grant of US$39 million supports the Zambia Enhancing Early Learning Project (ZEEL), which aims to improve equitable access and quality learning conditions in early childhood education in the most disadvantaged districts to reach vulnerable students across the country.

The GPE program focuses on the following components:

  1. Improving equitable access to quality early childhood education in targeted disadvantaged areas, addressing challenges to access as well as enhancing the quality of the learning environment
  2. Developing and implementing early childhood education quality standards, including those related to materials, facilities, and workforce training, deployment, and assessment
  3. Enhancing delivery of quality early learning and care, focusing on workforce recruitment, professional development and community engagement
  4. System strengthening, project management, monitoring and evaluation, and communication.

The program also includes a contingency emergency response component, which allows the government to request rapid reallocation of funds to respond promptly and effectively to an emergency or crisis.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
COVID-19 2020-2022 10,000,000 6,309,095 UNICEF  
Program implementation and Multiplier 2021-2025 39,836,000 3,789,548 WB Progress report
Program implementation 2013-2019 20,467,972 20,431,972 FCDO  
2009-2011 60,200,000 60,200,000 NDL  
Sector plan development 2020-2024 700,000 538,446 WB  
2016-2018 485,421 485,421 UNICEF  
Program development 2020-2021 400,000 399,999 WB  
  Total 132,089,393 92,154,481    
Data last updated: March 17, 2023

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting:

  • The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) for the 2019-2021 period. This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.
  • Action Aid International to mobilize an advocacy alliance across multiple partner countries, including Zambia, for the 2021-2023 period.

GPE had provided the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) with a grant from the CSEF to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Last updated January 18, 2022