There are about 6,686,000 children in Zambia where they are much cherished. Most children in Zambia have five siblings, though some have eleven, and live with their immediate family in extended family clusters. Sadly, poverty is widespread in Zambia and the majority of children live on less than 60p a day. Around half of all children in Zambia under the age of 5yrs are malnourished. Vitamin deficiency and anaemia are also widespread. The health care system is under developed especially in rural areas and this is compounded by the rural population having limited access to improved drinking water at just 36%.
The spread of AIDS/HIV has also affected life in Zambia with one in five children in the country having lost one or both parents to the disease. Alarmingly 30,000 children are born HIV-positive each year due to mother-to-child transmission and an estimated 16% of the adult population is infected. Education for children in Zambia is considered important, with high rates of literacy, and, unlike so many other countries, there is little gender gap. Unfortunately there is an ongoing issue with a shortage of teachers so many children end their education without a firm grasp of key skills, although the situation has improved following the abolition of tuition fees.
Education itself is divided into two parts basic education (years 1 to 9), and upper secondary (years 10 to 12) however a great many children drop out after year 7 as the free tuition then stops and the cost of education for large numbers of children in the family becomes untenable. Children in Zambia, as in so many African countries, are obsessed with football, however poverty means that often the football itself is made from old rags bundled together. Girls also enjoy the game of Nchuba which is somewhat similar to jacks and Isolo, a version of checkers.
Despite the value put on children in Zambia, inevitably many are orphans, not least because of AIDS as detailed above. There are an estimated 75,000 street children in Zambia, most in the capital Lusaka and these children are most at risk not least because the country's constitution only prohibits forced labour for children under the age of 15rs with a similar age for trafficking. Once age 15, its quite legal to be trafficked or financially exploited because at that age children in Zambia are considered to be adults. And with adulthood, even though still children, they are expected to undertake adult duties from marriage, child rearing and farming to support themselves and their family.
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