Asked Questions About Education In Zambia

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about education in Zambia and their answers. You can participate by asking your own question.

Q 1: Give me a brief history of Zambian education

Questions About Education In ZambiaLusaka Girls Secondary School
Questions About Education In Zambia

The history of Zambian education can be traced back to the missionary schools (or religious schools).

The missionaries such as the Protestants, the Catholics and others set up missionary schools in areas where they were operating. These schools, even if located very far from some settlements, where the only education providers to the locals.

Until recently, the majority of schools were owned and run by the government. Only a few were in private hands, mostly in church hands. Today, Zambia has public, private and religious schools.  Here, religious schools are being counted as private.

Although private education is beyond the reach of many Zambians, a lot of private schools have sprung up.

Q 2: As a foreigner working in Zambia, I want to enrol my kids at one of the preschools. How good are they?

Questions About Education In Zambia Primary School In Kafue Town
Questions About Education In Zambia

What’s normally called kindergartens, nurseries or pre-schools are a new thing to most parents in Zambia. Of late, parents have realised that a child’s potential is best harvested early. This has resulted in an increase in the number of new pre-schools in Zambia.

These days, pre-schools are very much available in the urban areas of Zambia. But the quality of pre-schools in Zambia varies widely. Some pre-schools offer very high quality early childhood education.

Others just cater for the neighbourhood where it’s located and the quality of teachers is questionable.

Therefore, if you want to enroll your kids at a pre-school, check around and pick what suites you.

Q 3: What are the minimum entry requirements at university?

University entry requirements depend to a large extent on the field of study you want to pursue. But applicants must be at least +18 yrs and holders of grade 12 school certificate from ECZ (ECZ-Examinations Council Of Zambia, is the examining board) or the equivalent for foreign applicants. This requirement is for undergraduate programs.

For post graduate programs, applicants should be holders of an undergraduate/bachelors (or equivalent) qualification in the same field of study or any other relevant discipline. 

Q 4: Are the required entry requirements at university for foreigners different to those of Zambians?


ut they should be the equivalent of Zambian qualifications. At undergraduate level, a grade 12 school certificate (GCE) is usually the standard requirement, which is an examinations council of Zambia (ECZ) qualification. Any equivalent foreign qualification is sufficient to get you into university. 

Q 5: I’ve done ‘A’ levels. Am I exempt at university from doing certain courses which I’ve previously done?


But you have to notify the particular institution of what you have undertaken/done so far and they will let you know at what stage they will draft you. 

Q 6: What type of tertiary Institutions are available in Zambia?

Questions About Education In Zambia Evelyn Hone College
Questions About Education In Zambia

The Zambian education system has both private and public Institutions. Of the public Institutions, the University of Zambia (UNZA) is the biggest and offers a lot of study programs at both undergraduate and post graduate levels.

The majority of students studying at public universities do so using government bursary. The bursaries are offered to deserving students upon application.  

Apart from the University of Zambia located in Lusaka, other public universities are Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe and Mulungushi University in Kabwe town. A number of new public universities are under construction. 

The total number is still on the rise due to the large number of Institutions (Public and Private) still under construction or yet to be established. 

These Zambian Universities (public and private) offer a wide variety of study programs at undergraduate and postgraduate.

Q 7: Does the Zambian education system acknowledge studies done abroad and if so, can I carry on from where I had stopped?


The Zambian education system accepts foreign qualifications from a credible institution. A student with such qualifications is able to merge into the Zambian education system.

Notify the institution of your choice of what you’ve done so far. For more information, consult the specific institution.

Q8: How easy is it to pursue a career outside Zambia with a Zambian qualification?

The number of Zambians with Zambian qualifications working in the diaspora pursuing different careers are testimony that Zambian qualifications are very much welcome outside the country. 

As a holder of a Zambian qualification, you can compete favourably in any country outside Zambia. 

Q9: Can you describe the Zambian education system from kindergarten to university and how long (years) you take at each level?

Education in Zambia is classified into four categories; preschool, primary education, secondary education and tertiary education. Below is simply the route it takes from preschool (nursery/kindergarten), to tertiary level. 

Formal education starts at preschool (kindergarten), followed by primary education. Next is secondary education and finally tertiary education (colleges, universities etc).

The state (government) is the largest education provider. But of late new private schools have been established. Private universities started to flourish after the private universities act of 1999 was passed. 

Pre-schooling starts at any age from 3 to 4 years (yrs). Most preschools in Zambia are concentrated in urban areas where the majority of parents send their children to preschools because they have realized the positive advantages of early learning.

Usually, pre schooling lasts from 1 to 2 yrs and it prepares the child for primary education. Primary education takes 7 yrs (grade 1 to 7) and the pupils take their final exams at the end of the 7 yrs. Successful pupils get the Primary School Certificate and proceed to grade 8 (junior secondary school).

  • Secondary education lasts for 5 yrs and it’s broken down into 2:
  • Junior Secondary (lower level); grades 8 to 9
  • Senior Secondary (upper level); grades 10 to 12

Exams are held in the last year of each level and successful pupils are awarded the Junior Secondary School Certificate (lower level) or the School Certificate in the final year of secondary education (grade 12).

Q 10: How good are Zambia’s public Schools compared to private schools?

Private schools tend to be smaller and enrol a smaller number of pupils. This results in a low teacher-pupil ratio.

(Note: Private schools in this regard also include schools run by the churches and other organisations other than the state.)  

The low teacher-pupil ratio enables teachers to focus on the individual needs of pupils. As a consequence, pupils can realize their full potential. This scenario brings about good/high grades at private schools.

On the other hand, public schools (state owned/run schools) have a high enrolment and also a high teacher-pupil ratio which ultimately leads to lower grades. However there are exceptions! There are public Schools in almost every town in Zambia which are very good.

Generally, most private schools do better than public schools. Though most private schools are better than the public ones, not all private schools can be said to belong to this class. It’s a question of being selective.  

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