Friday, February 22, 2013

Zambia's Education Situation

The numbers I'm going to use here are old. Nothing newer than 2008. That puts these facts squarely in the middle of the previous administration. So I can't speak about the current numbers in the last 5 years, but I can't imagine they've changed. In 2008 Zambia spent 1.3% of its GDP in education expenditures. That's 1.3% for all education from preschool to university. They did better than Equatorial Guinea. Angola spent twice as much. Rwanda spent three times as much. Ghana spent more than four times as much as Zambia. And it shows.

Maybe I've mentioned this before in another post but the school systems here is seriously troubled. In a semi-rural area about 14k from town center most kids speak little to no english except for, "How are you?" and "Fine." The classrooms are overcrowded and teachers can have from 60-90 kids in a single class. Kids in 4th grade can't write their names. And they get passed on to fifth grade anyway. And these are the kids who are actually in school. I'd guess as many as 20% of kids aren't in any sort of school at all for a majority of the year. They're lacking school fees, uniforms, school shoes, examination fees, exam result fees, or school materials like pencils and exercise books.  Even the public schools have a wide variety of costs that children need to pay so that they can attend. What this means is that we have an endless parade of school children at our gate asking for money and materials to keep them in class. Many children manage to stay in school by collecting cash and clothes from various aunties and uncles, making the rounds with their exam results to prove they've been working hard. We regularly look at kids grades grades at the beginning of each term. What is so sad and scary for the future of this country where the median age is 16 is that the students who are second or third or even first in their class have grades that would be a failing grade in the States. The kid with the number two position in class has a 61% in Maths and 64% in English. And he's the kid with a chance of going on to highschool if only he could scrape up all the money needed. Pray for us as we try to be wise and discerning yet generous with flood of children!!

Now I know that Americans place a high value on education. They often don't need children to earn income or help with harvesting just for a family to survive. But if Zambia wants to have a future for a generation of millions of uneducated, lost, and unemployable people they need to seriously reform the educational system here. From a missions standpoint - it's one more reason why Christians don't know the gospel. They can't understand a book like Ephesians even if they can read it. Preachers shy away from scripture and from exegesis because they lack education to teach it and their congregations lack education to understand it. So churches focus heavily on "prophesies" and 'miracles" because its easier than doing the hard work of training a church to read, think, and understand scripture. SO pray for Zambian kids to get educated!! And maybe consider doing something about it. Go to http://www.ariseafrica.org/ and sponsor a kid! Or email us and help us sponsor a kid from Kasupe!



No comments: