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The Crisis

Facts about Education in Lumwana West

Lumwana West Basic School

Lumwana West Basic School

Children living in the NW Zambian village of Lumwana West may attend the Lumwana West Basic School from first through seventh grade—if their parents who labor as subsistence farmers can afford to send them. Schooling beyond seventh grade is now considered secondary school and requires tuition and boarding fees in addition to expenses for books, supplies, uniforms, and exam fees.

Many families choose to educate boys rather than girls, since they depend on sons to provide for them in their old age. Girls marry young (12-14) and leave home for their husband’s families. Thus, many girls are not given a chance to reach their potential and develop important skills taught at school.

Students wishing to go to high school (grades 10-12) must stay at a boarding school in another town. Most attend Mwinilunga High School, which is 90 km away. All 8th and 9th grade students continue to be educated in the village, although they are now considered to be in secondary school. For many village families, the cost of boarding in addition to school fees is not manageable, and students typically do not go beyond ninth grade. Many of the parents in the village are illiterate. Thus, it is difficult to find educated adult role models.

Of the girls who do attend school, many drop out much earlier than boys. According to a World Vision study, “Most of the girls in the area become mothers at a very tender age of 13, get married and drop out of school.” EBZEF challenges village girls to postpone marriage and pregnancy in order to complete school. Those who become pregnant before completing school are encouraged to resume their studies as soon as possible after the baby is born. Some girls are even dreaming of post-secondary school opportunities to pursue careers as teachers, nurses, or development specialists. Beth’s Girls are learning how education can be empowering, giving them choices and new opportunities.

Beth’s Girls are learning how education can be empowering, giving them choices and new opportunities.

Education can be empowering, giving Beth’s Girls choices and new opportunities.

Studies show that women who are educated are more likely to educate their children, more likely to provide better nutrition for their children, and more likely to earn a greater income to support their families. Beth’s Girls are on their way to becoming leaders in their village, changing not only their own futures, but that of their future children and the whole village community as well.

A community goal is to up-grade the Lumwana West Basic School to a High School so the local children can attend grades 1 through 12 without having to travel a long distance and pay expensive boarding fees. EBZEF has supported this goal by building a library in the village. EBZEF has also helped to create a partnership with Engineers Without Borders to build a science lab for the secondary school.

Many students cannot go on to high school because they do not pass their exams at the end of seventh and ninth grades. They do not graduate because they cannot pass their twelfth grade exams. EBZEF is helping Beth's Girls to succeed by providing tutoring for students in grades nine and twelve, so they are better prepared for their exit exams.

Facts & quotes about Education (and the importance of educating girls)

“Girls must be given equal treatment and opportunities from the very beginning.”Of the “over 100 million children who are without basic schooling - two-thirds of them are girls.” -World Declaration on the Survival, Protection, and Development of Children, 1990

Access to education is a fundamental tool for child protection.

“Of the 120 million school-age children not enrolled in school worldwide, the majority are girls.” -UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2004

Quote from Kofi Annan, Foreword to UNICEF, the State of the World’s Children, 2004 UNICEF reports that there is “no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health - including the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

“Access to education is a fundamental tool for child protection. Education inherently provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection.” — UNESCO Guidebook for Planning Education in Emergency and Reconstruction

Girls education is a primary predictor for a number of development indicators, including national fertility rates, infant mortality, family income, and productivity. World Bank economists have recognized girls’ education as the single development intervention with the greatest individual and social returns. Girls’ education is not important only as a social indicator or an engine for economic development, however. It sits at a fulcrum where individual human rights intersect with social and economic development, leading to greater levels of health, economic security, liberty, and participation in social and political activity.
Lumwana West Basic School

- Quotation from 2005 article by Brent Wible, “Achieving the Promise of Girls’ Education: Strategies to Overcome Gender-based Violence in Beninese Schools.”

Facts from UNGEI (UN Girls’ Education Initiative): Higher education levels for girls are associated with a reduced risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

There are 781 million illiterate adults, two thirds of them women, worldwide. Children whose mothers have no education are more than twice as likely to be out of school as children whose mothers have some education In developing countries, 75 per cent of the children not in primary school have uneducated mothers.

One additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths. More girls can attend and complete school if other children they need to care for are receiving early childhood care and education; this is particularly crucial for children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The UN Millennium Development Goals

  1. Achieve universal primary education
    Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling.
  2. Promote gender equality and empower women
    Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.