Zambia Open Community Schools

We will be meeting with the teachers and students at a ZOCS school in Lusaka, Zambia where we will experience the total solar eclipse on June 21, 2001.  Our sponsor, Rainbow Symphony, has donated 50 pairs of Eclipse Viewing Glasses for the students to safely watch the eclipse. 

Why Community Schools?

Community schools in Zambia strive to attain the same primary education in 4 years that children receive in 7 years in the formal education sector.

Community schools do not have uniforms, they do not charge school fees, and they provide a basic education following the SPARK curriculum (School, Participation, Access and Relevant Knowledge). The SPARK curriculum is based on Grades 1-7, and has been designed to reflect the needs of community school children. It provides a primary education in 4 years, covering such topics as Maths, English, Nyanja, Science, Social Studies, Health Education, Life Skills and Physical Education. The teachers in Community Schools are not formally trained and come from the community where the school is based. They use whatever building9 or open space they find to teach in, and have limited resources (books, desks, blackboards etc).

The Ministry of Education recognises the existence of Community Schools, and in partnership with ZOCS are currently looking at ways the two systems can compliment each other and how their relationship can be developed.


Zambia Open Community Schools

Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) is a non-profit making, Zambian registered NonGovernmental Organisation (NGO). ZOCS is the largest NGO working exclusively in the Community School sector in Zambia. The first ZOCS' school began in 1992 and the organisation registered in 1996. ZOCS currently works with 21 schools, which provide education for over 4400 children in 106 classes. There is no typical ZOCS School; each one reflects the needs and the environment of the community it serves.

ZOCS Mission

"As a community-based project ZOCS exists to enable some of Zambia’s most needy children to access basic quality education. In giving children the opportunities to acquire the

knowledge and skills they need to develop to their full potential, we give them hope for the future."


ZOCS Goals

ZOCS goals are designed to provide education to those children excluded from the Government School system, through:

· Promoting the importance of education for girls.

· Providing learning opportunities for girls and orphans.

· Providing relevant education, to equip children with the necessary skills to contribute positively to society.

· Provide in-service training to teachers to set the standard for quality education.

· Train and support the Parent-Community School Committees (PCSCs) in their management role of the school, enabling them to work towards management and financial independence.

Who Benefits?

The poorest communities within Lusaka:

· Girls, orphans and those excluded from the government school system, by receiving a basic education.

· The teachers who develop the opportunity to continue their educational and professional development.

· The Parent-Community School Committee who are provided with the support to become empowered, through management responsibility and working towards financial independence.

The Government has a memorandum of understanding with ZOCS and recognises our Community Schools as valid schools, teaching a recognisable curriculum. Our teachers receive support from our Education Advisors and regular in-service training. ZOCS is currently working in conjunction with the Ministry to receive Teacher certification, the same as in Government School.

Most children now sit the Grade 7 exam when they have finished Level 4 with ZOCS, and some of the successful ones find the means to support their way through secondary education. The teachers are encouraged to develop life skills training with the children. The PCSC are involved in the development of the school. Longer-term self-financing projects are currently underway to generate income towards school running costs and eventually financial independence.

ZOCS have worked with communities to construct permanent school buildings. Each PCSC mobilises their community to provide the physical labour, whilst ZOCS sources the funds to buy the building materials. This process builds the communities’ self-reliance and capacity to maintain and manage their school in the future.


ZOCS and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO)

To help ZOCS achieve its goal of long-term financial independence, ZOCS has been working with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) for the last two and a half years to build the capacity of the organisation and the communities we work with.

There are currently three volunteers in ZOCS: one is in his third year as Building Advisor, helping to train the local community at grass-roots level to construct their own school; the second is building on a previous VSO two year placement of central fundraising, working to train the PCSCs in fundraising and cement long term central funding relationships; and the third is instigating a Microfinance Project to provide access to finance for Income Generating Activities to fund school running costs. These placements provide the opportunity for volunteers to share their skills to help ZOCS achieve self management.


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