In 2015, the CIA estimated that 54.4% of Zambians live below the poverty line.
Children living in poverty are more likely to experience illness due to unsafe water and poor sanitation and malnutrition. They are also more likely to be unable to attend school and finish their education.
It could be for any number of reasons.
- Parents fall on hard times and can’t afford books and uniforms.
- The family needs the child to bring in an income.
- The nearest school is too far away.
- The student doesn’t score well enough on a grade level exam to move on and rather than retaking Grade 7, loses incentive to continue.
- Or, for girls, they become pregnant and drop out and can’t manage to return. Zambia’s number of teenage pregnancies is well above average for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Children who are not in school are at greater risk for exploitation and early marriage.
Education is a proven key component to turning things around for impoverished families. But it can be near impossible for families to break the cycle and get their children through school.
World Vision points out, “Adults with even a basic education are better equipped to run a business – for example, to keep accurate records and to secure loans to expand their ventures. They can read correspondence from potential business partners and write responses.”
Providing a basic education in Jesus’ name is a commendable goal. It changes futures and protects the vulnerable. It’s a great way to obey our calling to care for the poor.
Our partners at Excellence Christian Academy and those who partner with them financially are faithfully accomplishing that worthy task.
But they are doing so much more for ECA students.
Excellence Christian Academy provides so much more than an education for its students.
ECA provides its students with a quality education.
Why does quality matter?
It matters because in Zambia, if you don’t pass, you don’t move on. If you don’t move on, your income potential is truncated. You return to being at greater risk for exploitation and early marriage.
Zambian grade exams are given at grade 7, 9 and 12.
Only 28% of students complete the upper secondary, or Grades 10,11 and 12. In some cases, this is because their grade exam scores were too low.
According to the High Achieving Low-Income Access Network, a group of non-profit organizations focused on education in Africa,
“...the Grade 7 exam allows the rationing of the limited space available by pushing out children who do not achieve the required marks.”
A precious few of that 28% continue on to attend a University, in fact Zambia’s number of students in University is one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Joshua Nsofwa, a recent transfer to ECA had just completed 4th grade in a government school. But his entry exams revealed he wasn’t ready for 5th grade at ECA.
Having the opportunity to begin in 4th grade at ECA means Joshua will have a much better chance at passing his first big exam after Grade 7.
The quality of the education you receive matters, and because students at ECA are getting a high quality education, they are well-equipped to avoid being pushed out.
ECA students get a quality education from a Biblical perspective.
Each morning, Joshua’s teacher leads a morning devotion. She reads from the Bible and the class works on memorizing verses or passages together.
The young man has shared with his new teacher more than once that he greatly enjoys his class’s morning devotion time. Joshua shared that when he began at ECA, that was the first time he had the privilege of experiencing a morning devotion at school.
The entire student body - all 180 students - is also blessed with specific, corporate Biblical guidance and encouragement at the school’s regular chapel times.
ECA students benefit from Biblical guidance and encouragement from seasoned believers such as ITMI's Steve Evers as they gather for chapel in the courtyard.
Students learn they can talk to Jesus in prayer and how to do it, during chapel.
ITMI's Eugene Kalunga and two faculty and staff members with ITMI's Steve Evers.
Excellence Christian Academy’s principal, and our Zambian partner, Eugene Kalunga, tells us the students often take the Biblical teaching and Good News they hear at school home to their families.
Lusuma Chisenga, also transferred to ECA this year. As the daughter of a local pastor, she immediately recognized the Biblical influence at the school.
She was surprised when her ECA teachers taught her how to share the Gospel with other children, because it was so different from her old school.
She says, “The teachers at ECA are so encouraging and always give examples from the Bible during lessons.”
But that’s not all!
ECA students aren’t just taught how to share Jesus with their friends and given a daily devotional.
On top of that, these future Zambian leaders learn from a Biblical curriculum. Each subject is taught through the lens of a Biblical perspective.
Whether they come to ECA as a follower of Jesus or not, they leave having had every opportunity to put their faith in Him and grow in the knowledge of His goodness and grace.
They have access to the tools, teaching and knowledge they need to lead obedient lives, worthy of their calling.
The Excellence Christian Academy campus.
Twenty years ago, when ITMI supporters funded the purchase of the property where Excellence Christian Academy now operates, they made an investment that provided hope and a future for many who were vulnerable, struggling and suffering.
Since then, other faithful believers have followed in their footsteps, sacrificially making the entire ministry of ECA possible.
They’ve partnered with Eugene, allowing ECA to keep maintaining its facility, find and retain top quality, Christian teachers and continue operations.
Support helps ECA retain quality, Christian instructors.
That sacrificial investment continues changing lives today.
It's a legacy that will continue its ever-widening reach as each year students graduate equipped to be agents of peace, hope and the Good News for those who cross their paths!
CIA Factbook. Zambia https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/za.html