When Jennifer and her younger brother passed their primary school exams with flying colours, their parents faced a difficult choice.
With six children in the family and both parents working in low paid jobs, expensive school fees were out of the question. “When we got our results, my mother said they couldn’t afford to pay for both me and my brother to go to secondary school,” says Jennifer. “She asked, ‘Which of you will go to secondary school?”
For many Sub-Saharan African families the answer would have been to send the boy. In Zambia for every 100 boys who complete secondary education, only 64 girls do.
Fortunately for Jennifer’s family, there was a solution to the dilemma. News reached Jennifer’s father of a ground-breaking new partnership between PEAS and Zambia’s Ministry of General Education.
Working alongside the government to identify areas where there is an urgent unmet demand for secondary education, PEAS provides upfront capital for construction and manages school operations – hiring and managing staff – while the government provides a monthly subsidy per pupil that covers operating costs. This means zero fees for day students and is planned to be the start of a new network of sustainably delivered free secondary education for marginalised youth in Zambia.
Jennifer and her brother were both able to enrol at the first partnership school – PEAS Kampinda – when it opened its gates in January this year. Of the school’s current 320 students, 49 per cent are girls. Accessibility is key; 75 per cent of the pupils, like Jennifer and Lewis, come from families who live below the $1.90 a day poverty line.
“Many children in our community cannot afford to go to government or private secondary schools due to the high fees”, says Jennifer. “Now they have the chance to attend a PEAS school like me.”