Reflecting on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on Education in Zambia

University of Zambia

Education in Zambia
Education in Zambia

In this article, we peep into Zambia’s performance in the education sector at Primary and Secondary levels since ratifying the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, concluded at Nairobi on 27 June 1981. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent. Zambia signed the Charter on 17th January, 1983 which was later ratified on 10th January, 1984. Among the key Articles within the Charter is Article 17 which stipulated that, ‘every individual shall have the right to education.’ Close to four decades since Zambia ratified the Charter, it is not clear how the Country has performed in the Education sector. Thus, the paper interrogates Zambia’s performance on Education.

According to Statistical Bulletin of the Ministry of General Education (2018), Completion Rate to Grade 9 stood at 77.0% while Grade 12 was 36.0%. This meant that in every cluster of 100 pupils who were in school at grade 1 stage, only 77 pupils would complete grade 9 leaving behind 23 pupils. However, the situation worsened as they climb further the academic ladder as only 36 pupils were guaranteed to complete final grade 12 while 64 pupils would not complete. In terms of Equity, the Gender Parity Index (GPI) at Primary school level was 1.02 meaning there were 102 girls for every 100 boys in school. However, at Secondary school level the GPI was 0.85, meaning there were 85 girls for every 100 boys. This then meant that while more girls than boys were present at primary school level, very few completed their secondary education later on Tertiary education, rendering them vulnerable to social and economic ills. Gender Parity Index speaks to equality as a preventative measure against violence on women and girls. It’s essential for economic prosperity. Societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier. The plight of children with special education needs is in an awful state as out of the few able to access Primary education, 103, 218, only 20, 092 (19.5%) reach Secondary education (Ministry of General Education, 2018).

As Zambia nears celebrating the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Golden Jubilee in 10 years’ time a lot more effort is needed to better the current situation. The government should consider constructing more secondary schools, improve on the quantity and quality of teachers deployed and improve on the supply of teaching-learning resources. In addition, there is need to make secondary education universal and free for all pupils to attend. This will help many learners to have access to a quality inclusive secondary education which enables them to develop the potentials of life. Furthermore, Parents, Guardians, community and other educational stakeholders should supplement the government efforts by building classrooms, laboratories, teachers’ houses, and a library to make sure that good quality education is provided to students.

The fore-going discourse contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development agenda particularly target number four on education if only the challenges noted above are addressed positively.


Note: The Author of this article is a Canon Collins Trust/Chevening Alumni currently serving as Lecturer at the University of Zambia. He is an academician with keen interest in the welfare of the marginalized and vulnerable persons. He has vast experience in Open Distance Education and Inclusive Education. Francis serves as member of the Advisory Board of the Network of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Multimodal Self-Directed Learning in Southern Africa (NOMSA) through North-West University, South Africa.


Francis Simui, PhD