The 1980s saw a big budget cut on the education of Zambian primary pupils. By the time 1990 came, the education budget allotted for each student went as low as sixteen dollars from twenty-four dollars in the mid-1980s. Primary education was the most affected by the budget cut while education budget for the tertiary level was retained. 

Ironically, while Zambia drastically lowered its educational budget for primary and secondary levels, enrolments for these levels rose rapidly. Unfortunately,  the administration was not able to foresee and to put in plans to serve the needs of   rising enrolments. As a consequence, there was a dramatic decline in the quality of education.

            As an example, schools had sessions of up to four a day, and less than two million students were congested in only around twenty thousand classrooms.   There was also a rise in girls’ enrolment in 1992 to forty-eight percent  from forty-three percent during the latter part of the 1980s.

            In Zambia, there are significant differences in the education patterns for both urban and rural areas. In the urban areas, GER (Gross Enrolment Ratios) is less than one hundred one percent while the GER in the rural areas is only sixty-nine percent. In the provinces of Zambia where poverty is at its worst, it  has the highest recorded dropout rates and suffers the lowest GER, 

            There is only a slight increase in regards to drop out rates for girls in primary schools as compared to boys.  But, the dropout rates for girls attending secondary levels are still considerable. Should they be fortunate enough to continue their secondary level of schooling, majority of them are directed towards subjects that are non-technical and traditionally female in nature such as social sciences, home economics, and others.

            In the tertiary level, girls even experience a more restricted access to education as compared to their secondary level of schooling. This occurs despite the fact that entrance requirements at the tertiary level for girls are much lower than for boys.

In the 1990s, Zambia female students in the tertiary level comprised only twenty-eight percent of the total student population in that educational level. Female students, are again, directed toward courses dealing with humanities, arts, and teaching.  In 1994, only eight percent of female students were able to enroll in science courses. 

One reason why this is so is because from the time they attended school starting from the primary level, they were only exposed to gender-basis specializations. By the time they entered the tertiary level, they are not qualified anymore or females do not have the qualifications needed to study non-traditional female courses as the sciences.   

            Gaps between genders enrolment ratio become  increasingly wider starting from the secondary level up to tertiary level in favor of boys.  Moreover, educational growth has almost stopped due to the current financial difficulties experienced by Zambia.

            Educational attainment of girls is low due to low enrolment and high wastage that includes both drop outs and grade repetitions. . Records show, based on leaving exams administered, that Zambian school girls perform poorly in almost all subject except local languages and English. Leaving exams are administered at the end of the primary level and the secondary level. 

            Leaving exam records show that boys’ mean scores are higher  than girls and that only one-third of girls graduates in a particular level as compared to one-half for boys. Boys perform better than girls in academics and girls show frequent failings in both primary and secondary levels except for literature.

            The causes of poor performance of girls in school are multifaceted, involving different factors as social, political, and economic. According to the findings of Appleton, 1994, it only mirrors gender inequality in the Zambian society and culture as a whole. The school and the community are duplicating the mores of Zambia which underrates the potential and capabilities of females.

One example is when children are needed at home to help in the family business, parents tend to let the boys attend school while the girls stay at home to help.  As a result, the attitudes manifested by society restrict the girls to bloom to its full potential and girls psychologically detach themselves from school.

            Only less than four percent of girls are able to complete the primary level as compared to eleven percent for boys. Evidence shows that female illiteracy is high and that formal education in majority of its rural areas is almost non-existent. 



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