The School Club Zambia is a Zambian Non-Governmental Organisation and a UK charity which exists to support community schools and their pupils. We provide technical support, networking opportunities and seed funding for community schools to start or scale-up their own enterprises. The organisation was founded in 2011 to help support community schools and their pupils. We provide technical support, start-up capital for school owned enterprises and networking events for these usually isolated schools. There are currently over 5,000 registered community schools in Zambia.
Whilst there is no 'typical' community school, many provide up to 300 pupils with their only meal of the day; offer medical advice to children who are HIV positive; counselling services and opportunities for pupils to develop business skills such as tailoring, which is not included in the general curriculum. The vast majority of community schools have higher intakes of female pupils, as parents or guardians with limited funds are still more likely to invest in the education of boys rather than girls in Zambia. Our own figures also show that pupils of community schools are more likely to be HIV positive, orphaned and living with grandparents or a single parent, as children from these backgrounds are the least likely to have families with secure financial resources and therefore the ability to pay for the school requisites of Government Schools. UNICEF estimates that only 5% of community school pupils finish secondary school (grade 12), which is 15% lower than the national average.
A community school that is able to cover all of its expenses through a self-generated income, is a school that can plan. It is a school that no longer has to rely on infrequent assistance or underpay its valuable staff. It is a school that can reliably provide secondary school scholarships, counselling services, free meals and more. This is essential when acknowledged that community schools are providing an education, as well as nutritional and social support to children and youth from extremely challenging backgrounds. Finally, it is a school that has access to a means of implementing a more vocational form of education to compliment the government's technical curricula. School enterprises like a tailoring centre or piggery, provide the perfect hands-on example of how to start, market and manage a business in later life, without any financial risk to the pupil!
In an economy like Zambia where 50% of the population is under-employed or unemployed, and 80% work in the informal sector, entrepreneurs create products, services and most importantly jobs. They expand economies, improve people's lives, provide employment (high and rising wages) and bring about competition. A competitive environment, in turn, gives rise to efficiency, meritocracy and further innovations and entrepreneurial drive. Learning how to become an entrepreneur? Well that has to start at school, especially when as a community school pupil your chances of entering formal employment is slim.