In 2012, the new curriculum framework for primary and secondary education in Zambia was adopted. It has been prepared by the Curriculum Development Centre under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education. This and coming years the new structure will be implemented. We discuss here the main changes and their implications for the schools in Kalwala.

General structure

The Zambian education model consist of 12 grades. In the 'old' structure the Basic School consisted of  grade 1 up to grade 9 (of which grade 8 and 9 formed the Upper Basic School, which was open to those who passed the grade 7 exam with a satisfactory results); Grade 10 to 12 formed the High School. It is especially the Upper Basic School that gets a different position and a different content. We will discuss both.

To mark the transition to a new structure new names were introduced for the different types of schools. The elementary school will be known as the Primary School. It includes grade 1 to 7. The Primary School is closed with an exam.

After the Primary School basically all students go to Secondary School. The Secondary School takes 5 years and consists of two parts, each of them ending with an exam: the Junior Secondary School (grades 8 and 9) and the Senior Secondary School (grade 10, 11 and 12).

Vocational education

The most important change regarding the content of education is the introduction of vocational education within the regular Secondary School. Until now, vocational education has been rather fragmented. Without doing violence to the truth it can be stated that vocational education has been neglected up to now. The existing landscape of vocational education can be characterized as a variety of craft and skill schools developed from various ideologies, ranging in level and accessibility and reporting to different ministries. Even though with the setting up of Teveta as a supervisory unit a first step towards harmonization and national certification was set, there was no vocational equivalent to the academic secondary education. This is going to be different in the new curriculum framework: after primary school pupils going to Secondary School can choose between two equivalent 'streams', the vocational stream training for a profession  in trade or craft and the academic stream preparing for tertiary education.
Basically every high school offers the two streams at both the junior and the senior level, although not every school will offer all variants of the vocational stream. The tension between the economy of scale and the diversity plays a part in the choices that have to be made.

The schools in Kalwala

The new structure as described in the framework is in line which with the ambitions as included in the Strategic Plan of Kalwala Trades School (now Kalwala School for Continuing Education). The underlying vision is the same for both of them: an adequate offer of vocational education with a degree of integration with the (academic) secondary education; this does not only increase the accessibility and status of vocational education, it also increases the mutual synergy and thereby the quality and economic feasibility of both school types.

This means that both schools can continue the road they are going: cooperation will be intensified and scale advantages will be used where possible. In addition to the focus on vocational education, the framework document stresses the importance of training in entrepreneurship. Also here the goals of the Strategic Plan of the school fit in the framework. This encourages us to continue on the road we are going.

The Ministry of Education has, through the Provincial Education Officer, on various occasions spoken with approval about the concept of the schools in Kalwala. Thereby the mutual cooperation was welcomed and it was indicated that in that sense Kalwala can be an example for the region.

Needless to say that the Foundation is very pleased with the developments initiated. Like others, she recognizes that the transition towards the new curriculum and structure is a major operation that will cost a lot of time and energy. The Foundation will be glad to make a contribution to this process.