Breaking the Cycle of Poverty through Education

Republic of Zambia

Over 5,200 children in the Lumwana West area have no access to a local high school (grades 10-12). As Zambia moved to a 5-year high school system, education beyond grade 7 requires children as young as 13 to attend boarding school 55 miles away. It costs more than a family’s annual income to board one child. In 2003, only 4 girls from the village went to school beyond grade 7 on an EBZEF scholarship; since then, EBZEF has supported 315 girls through secondary school. Opportunities for continued education do not exist for most children in Lumwana West unless a secondary school can be brought to the village.

ebzef scholarship recipients 

The need for a secondary school became apparent as Beth’s Girls moved through basic school. The high school nearest the village was Mwinilunga High School (MHS), 90 kilometers from home.  With no transport available, pupils had to board during the school year which was prohibitively expensive for a subsistence farming community.  From the beginning of our relationship with Lumwana West in 2003, the dream of the community was to have its own secondary school.

Beth's Girls in Uniform

EBZEF saw the increasing need and resolved to help build a secondary school in the village.  The first step was to build a community library.  The Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library, a Peace Corps Partnership project, was dedicated in 2009.  Through additional partnerships with Engineers Without Borders and World Vision, the dream of a secondary school began to take form.  In 2016, construction began for the first high school in Lumwana West.

EBZEF Memorial Library and Girls Studying 

Secondary education is a luxury in remote areas of Zambia. The Ministry of Education (MOE) had no plans to create a secondary school in Lumwana West; however, they agreed that, if the village found outside support to build the school facilities, the MOE agreed to certify and staff it.  The Lumwana West community and EBZEF had been given the green light to move in the direction of the dream.  According to Mr. Mbongo Njolomba, Secondary School Headmaster, “We are very happy and proud to have these facilities. The government is paying for the teachers. We have been considered for provisional teaching and learning materials. Very few schools have been given that opportunity.”

Headmaster Larry Njolomba

Waiting for High Chief to Arrive for Handover Ceremony  

The Handover Ceremony of Phase I of the Secondary School in August 2017 celebrated two new classroom blocks, two teacher’s houses, an ablution block (lavatory) for girls, plus septic tanks and soak-away fields.  More classrooms and teacher’s houses are needed, as is a mechanized well and an ablution block for boys.

Secondary School Teachers' House and Lavatory  

New desks and floor tiles for classrooms have been a partnership project as World Vision Zambia donated left-over tiles, Lumwana West supplied the labor, and EBZEF paid for the tile-fix materials.


The impact of a secondary school in the area is immeasurable, drawing students, not just from Lumwana West, but from 16 primary schools in the area. Mbongo Njolomba, Secondary School Headmaster, reports, “On average, we have about 60 pupils per class, and the number is getting bigger every day. We didn’t imagine that pupils would come crowding in from 100 kilometers away!” Bringing secondary education to the village, will ensure EBZEF’s efforts have significance reaching well into the future.

EBZEF Students  

As progress began toward the realization of a secondary school for the village, EBZEF slowly phased out the scholarships that sent girls to high school in Mwinilunga. Scholarship funds are now offered to help older Beth’s Girls go to college. Close to 30 Beth’s Girls have either graduated or are currently studying in college and vocational schools. College graduates call themselves Beth’s Ladies and include teachers, midwives, a physiotherapist, an electrician, a radiographer, with a pharmacist, an RN, and a future physician now in college and more.

EBZEF Scholarship Recipients  

The secondary school will complete EBZEF’s vision to educate the whole girl with a sustainable program, from pre-school through grades 1-12 and college. The village dreamed for years of a secondary school, with a high school education and literacy accessible to the entire community, regardless of age or gender. The Memorial Library and the science lab constructed by Engineers Without Borders are two huge steps toward making this dream a reality.

Eager EBZEF Students  

The construction of a secondary school is a natural evolution toward the sustainability of education for women and the community at large, of maintenance for the Memorial Library, and of the fulfillment of Beth’s vision. As we are able, EBZEF will continue to fund the college tuition of Beth’s Girls who desire higher education. The education of the Whole Girl is insured.

Help Educate the Whole Girl

After over a decade and a half of Beth’s and EBZEF’s work, the community has come to value the role of the educated woman and her place in Zambian society. As more girls receive an education, there are fewer girls dropping out of school because of early marriages and pregnancies. Beth’s Ladies are modeling a new lifestyle: school first, then career, then marriage, then children. They are becoming significant leaders in Lumwana West.

EBZEF Ladies at Work  

Today’s bride of choice is the educated woman. High Chief Sai’lunga of the Lunda tribe has decreed that “parents who will be found marrying off their female children below the age of 23 in this area will be punished”! He says, “This is a generation of educated people. We cannot afford to be marrying off our girls at the expense of empowering them with education.” Beth’s lasting legacy will be, in the words of a proud village chief, “a literate village.”

Secondary School Classroom

Lumwana West Secondary School Project:

You Can Make a Difference!

Help Cure Over-Crowded Classrooms

Children in the village of Lumwana West may have dreams for their future, but little hope of actually achieving those dreams because of the lack of education opportunities in their community. The Lumwana West Education Project has built a preschool and is currently building a secondary school to help these young people realize their hopes for a better future.

Newsletter PROTEA December 2018    Lumwana West Education Project 2019

The community of Lumwana West in the Northwestern province of Zambia needs a high school! Please click HERE to view our concept paper, which provides information about the Lumwana West community, and why construction of a high school there is so important to its children and future. The children’s improved health and livelihood is contingent on their education opportunity.  

One of the most powerful ways to break the cycle of poverty is by receiving an education that can lead to better jobs and more opportunities. Your gift to the $1,723,652 Lumwana West Education Project can make a difference in the lives of children who dream of a brighter future.

Thank you for considering joining us in this vital work.