Our Moon Education is a small HALI Access Network member working in Zambia. Our programmes unleash the potential in high achieving but low income young people to make positive social change within their communities, their country and on the continent of Africa. Our students are amazing young people – they have excelled in their education despite the many challenges they have faced, but they finish school abruptly with no obvious next step.
Zambia is a wonderful country. It is peaceful, has a democratically elected government, and is rich in resources. Its people are friendly and welcoming. But it also has huge debts which make it difficult for the country to invest in its infrastructure. Higher education, in particular, has suffered greatly.
In Zambia, the national curriculum finishes at the end of Grade 12. Of the students who start in primary, only 23% complete grade 12 and approximately half of those are awarded their high school certificate. Grade 12 standard sits somewhere between GCSE and AS levels equivalent in the UK, although learning by rote is still the main approach. There are few opportunities to study for A-levels, International Baccalaureate or equivalent, as there is no education for this age group. For HALI students, they have to wait two years before finding out if they will be given a loan to study at one of a few selected universities in the country. Many give up hope during that two years. Our Moon fills that gap by supporting carefully selected students with education and personal guidance to fulfil their academic potential and develop their social consciousness so that they can become the ethical young leaders the continent needs.
Until now, the Zambian government has prioritised loans for University of Zambia and Copperbelt University but, this year, has extended the loans to cover a further five regional universities. While this is a step in the right direction, it comes at a cost for HALI students as the loan now only covers tuition fees – and then it is often at 75% or 50% rather than the full 100% they need. “Seepage” has always been an issue at Zambian universities where students who start their courses fail to progress through to subsequent years. This is most frequently because students start with high hopes that they will be able to find the balance of the funds they need to complete their course, but fail to pay and are forced to withdraw because they can’t access their results and advance to the next year of study. Some students tell me that their course might start with 150 students but fewer than 10 actually graduate.
This is why the work that HALI organisations carry out in Zambia is so important and that the opportunities offered for students to travel abroad to study is vital for students to gain the academic qualifications, skills and dispositions to be able to contribute back to Zambian society. We would like to thank all the universities, on the African continent and beyond, that offer full scholarships to HALI Access members’ students.
Photo credit Malama Mushitu. Shows students from Our Moon Education and Kucetekela Foundation, two HALI member organisations.