Girls experience high rates of exclusion from education because of extreme poverty, most prevalent in the rural areas of the Western, Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces. These provinces fare much worse than others in government assessments of income levels, education and health. Zambia is ranked 13th out of 15 countries for literacy and numeracy by the Southern African Consortium for Measuring Education Quality.
Girls are far more likely to drop out of school, with the biggest disparities measured in rural communities: 27% of females in rural areas have no education compared to 18% of males. Pregnancy, early marriage and poverty are intrinsically linked and are the main challenges Zambian girls face in staying in school, particularly in rural schools.