Supporting girls to learn and lead in Zambia

CAMFED has been operating in Zambia since 2001, when we were invited to support the Ministry of Education to improve access to and completion of education for rural girls.

Despite having obtained a lower middle income status, Zambia continues to face high levels of poverty and inequality. Girls experience high rates of exclusion from education, particularly in the rural areas of the Western, Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces where CAMFED operates. These provinces fare much worse than others in government assessments of income levels, education and health, although educational outcomes across the country continue to be poor.

By 2022, we had expanded our Zambia operations from 3 districts to 49, across four provinces, including two new districts in Central Province. Today, CAMFED Zambia works with government schools, communities, and local stakeholders, to improve learning outcomes and widen educational access for girls and marginalized children.

Girls in rural and remote Zambia continue to face substantial material and psycho-social barriers to education, including lack of school requisites, long distances to school, early marriages and unintended pregnancies. The support from CAMFED has enabled the most marginalized girls — who had lost hope of staying in school and receiving education — to learn and aspire for greatness without worrying about school-going costs and other pressures. Our programs respond to the challenges these girls face and open up many bright possibilities for the future. CAMFED responds with urgency to the educational needs of these girls because it is the difference between staying in school and being pushed out.

Namenda Malupande, National Director, CAMFED Zambia


I am passionate about supporting girls and young people to stay in school and reach their potential

“Parents in the community are happy that they have me as the testimony of education. They see where I am now and they want their children to be educated. They say I am a role model and come to me with their problems.”

Naomi Chanda, CAMFED Association Chairperson, Zambia

Barriers to Education in Zambia

Poverty, early marriage and pregnancy, are intrinsically linked and are the main challenges Zambian girls face in staying in school, particularly in rural areas where over half the population live.

  • 58%

    In Zambia, 58% of people live below the international monetary poverty line of $1.90 per day.

    UNDP (2019)

  • 27%

    Only 27% of girls in Zambia complete upper secondary school, and among the poorest children this falls to 3%.

    UNICEF (2019)

  • 29%

    In Zambia, 29% of girls are married before the age of 18, and 5% before the age of 15.

    UNICEF (2020)

Play videoImage

Meet Melody*, a secondary school student in Zambia

Melody’s family faced acute poverty and she was at risk of dropping out of school to become a child bride. CAMFED stepped in with bursary support and school-going essentials like books and sanitary pads, ensuring Melody has all the support she needs to stay in school and thrive. 

*Not her real name. This pseudonym was chosen at the time of filming as Melody was underage.

Read video transcript

Since 2001, CAMFED Zambia has....

  • 571K

    supported 571,128 students to go to primary and secondary school using donor funds

  • 452K

    Of these, 451,908 students have been supported to go to primary school - CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 119K

    and we have supported 119,220 students to go to secondary school - CAMFED provides holistic support, that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 1.5K

    CAMFED Zambia partners with 1,480 schools - We work in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students.

Unlocking Futures for Girls in Zambia

CAMFED supports marginalized children in rural areas of Zambia who are at high risk of early marriage to continue their education at their local secondary schools.

Children and teens are supported by a network of young educated women in the CAMFED Association, who join forces with local government and community authorities to uphold girls’ rights and ensure they have the necessary support to attend school and succeed.

Our programs are also benefiting thousands of children with an improved learning environment, specifically reaching out to girls with disabilities to ensure they are not left behind in their pursuit of their right to education.

Communities taking action

Together with CAMFED Association leaders, we catalyze the activism of CAMFED Champions in our partner communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school.

  • 353K

    Since 2001, 352,999 students have been supported to go to school by CAMFED Association members and community initiatives.

  • 213K

    Of these, 212,920 students have been supported to go to school directly by CAMFED Association members. Often using profits from their businesses, CAMFED Association members support on average 3 more children to go to school - multiplying the impact of their education.

  • 140K

    and 140,079 students have been supported to go to primary and secondary school through community initiatives. This includes parents, teachers, education officials and traditional leaders, who rally resources to support even more children to go to school.

  • 24.6K

    Our movement in Zambia has grown to 24,685 CAMFED Association members helping to form the largest network of its kind in Africa. Young women educated with CAMFED support spearhead our programs and help more vulnerable children to go to school.

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