Zambia map


  • 83%
    Adult literacy rate*
  • 143 out of 188
    Human Development Index ranking*
  • 57.5%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day*

Why we work in Zambia

Zambia has high levels of poverty in both rural and urban areas, although this is particularly severe in rural areas where most people are subsistence farmers. The country embraced the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, and enrolment has increased dramatically.

However, this has placed pressure on the school system which is delivering through an inadequate infrastructure, often minimally qualified teachers and a lack of learning materials. School attainment is low in comparison with Zambia’s neighbours – it performs lowest in the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality Pupils Achievement Levels table, with the majority of pupils achieving only very basic reading skills at grade 6.

Zambia has seven official languages, one of which is English which is widely spoken. Children are taught in English from grade 5 and this is also the language of business in Zambia, which makes it essential for young people to master. Our work supplies books in English to schools, colleges and further education institutions as well as public libraries and improves access to books in English.

Our work in Zambia

Our main partner in Zambia is Zambia Library Service (ZLS) which provides books through its network of public libraries as well as to a network of community libraries.

Welcoming young Zambians into reading

In addition to providing books for general collections in public libraries in Zambia, we create vibrant and welcoming spaces for children in Zambian public libraries through our Children’s Corners programme. 0

Supporting schools in Zambia

Through Zambia Library Service we support the provision of books to primary and secondary schools which have a dedicated space, however small, to use as a school library.

We also work in partnership with a number of NGOs working to improve learning outcomes in schools including the Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS): There are some 600,000 children in Zambia who cannot afford or cannot get to a government school and who, without community schools, would be denied an education. We provide primary and secondary level books to the ZOCS network of schools to complement the curriculum in Zambia and ensure these children get a chance to discover the joy of reading.

Supporting higher education in Zambia

The higher education sector in Zambia is growing and there are several universities and higher education institutions. Budgets for the libraries tend to be very tight and many students cannot afford their own copies of books. We support these universities through ZLS and also through direct partnerships with the University of Zambia (Kitwe and Lusaka Campuses) and The Copperbelt University.

*UN Human Development Report 2019


Zambia 2019: Our work in numbers

The books are like money, there can never be enough! We need more because we reach a point where some children have read every book. CLEO'S STORY

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