Education & Jobs
Big investment in schools
At independence, Zambia had an extremely poor education system. Less than 0.5% of the population completed primary education. Since then, the country has invested heavily in schools.
Compulsory education begins at seven years of age and carries on for seven years of primary schooling.
Over 90% of children are enrolled at primary and many will now stay until the last grade.
At the end of primary school, children sit an exam to enter secondary education. This is divided into two phases: lower secondary, which lasts two years and upper secondary, lasting three years.
Two-thirds of children make the transition from primary to lower secondary school (UNESCO 2009).
Mining sector key for jobs
The University of Zambia is in Lusaka and the newer ‘Copperbelt University’ is located at Kitwe.
Many jobs in the country revolve around the mining sector. The two public universities offer five-year courses in engineering and subjects such as natural sciences and ‘mines and mineral studies’.
Agriculture is also a key sector, with fishing an important activity around rivers and lakes.
In the man-made lake created by the dam at Kariba, kapenta (small sardine-like fish) were introduced on commercial grounds and fishing at Lake Kariba is now a local industry.
The Chinese factor
In 2006, China declared its first ever 'special economic zone' in Zambia.
Zambia was the first African country to establish diplomatic ties with China. The Chinese have supported the building of new infrastructure (for example, the TAZARA railway) to help connect landlocked Zambia to ports such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Such investment by the Chinese has allowed Zambia to export its mineral wealth more easily. It has also brought many Chinese workers and their families to the country.
However, China's involvement in Zambia has brought controversy in recent years. Differences in culture, language and working practices also bring challenges where Chinese and Zambian people work together.