Building on the foundation of Schools as Centres of Care & Support, Zambia’s CSTL programme has grown the original project from 40 schools in two provinces, to 120 schools in five provinces; 15 schools were selected to participate in the baseline study.
CSTL in Zambia has resulted in improved participation of teachers and community members, bigger budget allocations for support activities and the formation of partnerships with key stakeholders – particularly in the areas of psychosocial support, nutrition and health, water and sanitation, safety and protection, infrastructure development, and teaching and learning materials. The CSTL essential package is being incorporated into the national standards and guidelines for improving the quality of education in Zambia, which will result in increased provision of these services.
Practical evidence of improved services includes the upgrading of infrastructure of five community schools. Previously, they were grass-thatched structures, but they have been provided with modern facilities and trained teachers – the result of which is increased enrolments. The school nutrition programme has improved school attendance and retention, as well as learning outcomes in such schools. In addition, stakeholder partners have increased their provision of material and welfare. For example, at Ndake Primary, 280 bicycles were provided to learners who had to cover long distances to get to school, which enables them to attend regularly. Efforts such as these have translated into improved access and retention for vulnerable children.
As a build up to the next phase of CSTL, Zambia envisages the following: scaling up CSTL programme interventions to all schools through the National Standards and Guidelines on Improving Quality of Education in Zambia; increasing the partners in the National Coordinating Unit in order to expand the provision of care and support services; increasing the budget allocations for bursary support to orphans and vulnerable children; improving teacher and community participation in the provision of care and support services, especially at school and community levels; integrating and harmonizing regional best practices into national plans.
Activities such as these will foster the achievement of the two national goals. These are, to improve the enrolment, retention and learner achievement of vulnerable learners through:
- Strengthening the responsiveness of the education systems
- Mobilizing school communities to provide care and support to vulnerable children