The recent introduction of Zambia’s Free Education Policy has opened doors for millions more young people to attend secondary school. Yet, adolescents in remote, rural communities in Zambia are still being left behind. Many of these students face exhausting journeys on foot, arriving at school drained of energy and unable to concentrate. The prevalence of safety concerns and the risk of sexual harassment during their commute disproportionately discourage girls from pursuing secondary education.

In PEAS schools, like other schools across Zambia, we’ve seen a disparity in learning outcomes between day and boarding students. This disparity arises from the lower attendance rates among day students and the increased study time available to boarding students. The gap is wider for female day students who have less time to study outside of school due to the added responsibility of daily household chores.

In an effort to bridge the gap, PEAS partnered with World Bicycle Relief to design and launch an innovative pilot programme in two PEAS Zambia schools. With generous funding from the Costa Foundation, the programme – Cycling for Success – provides bicycles to the most marginalised day students to reduce their travel time and help them feel safer on their journey to school.

240 Buffalo Bicycles were given to students who travel more than 3 kilometres to reach school, with 60% allocated to girls. The World Bicycle Relief supplied the students with “Buffalo Bicycles”, which are purpose-built to withstand rural terrains, heavy loads and long distances.

Now, one year down the line, we’ve seen improvements in student attendance and safety. Hear from Dirk Phiri, Deputy Country Director for PEAS Zambia, about the impact so far:

 

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