Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) is a Non-Governmental and a non-profit making Organization whose mandate is to supplement the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) in the provision of quality education to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), especially the girl child and children with disabilities or Special Education Needs (SEN).
The Organization through Advocacy, Capacity building and Service Delivery supports over 628 Community Schools in 51 selected Districts catering for129,544 OVC (63,711 male, 65,833 female) located in the 10 Provinces of Zambia. In reality, though, ZOCS’ support for Community Schools has a national reach as evidenced in the enactment of the 2011 Education Act that legalized Community Schools.
Founded in 1992 by the Sisters of Charity, the Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) has championed social justice for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) through delivering education services, building the capacity of thousands of volunteer teachers, empowering communities to provide education locally and collaborating with the government to establish policies and legislation that formalise technical, material, human and financial support to community schools. ZOCS was created from a unique need to address the socioeconomic impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the economic structural adjustment programme (SAP) and poverty in the 1980s which combined to produce a generation of Zambian children without a support system. For the Sisters of Charity, led by Sister Eileen McLoughlin, the idea of an ‘open community school’ represented an education opportunity without barriers to entry and participation. The ‘open community school’ embraced OVC of all ages to provide them with a quality learning experience of basic skills (reading, writing and life skills). The Sisters of Charity started the first such open school in 1992 enrolling 48 girls in Lusaka’s Misisi Compound.
25 years on, ZOCS’ mission remains resolute in supporting OVC. ZOCS’ quest is: “To secure education opportunities for learners outside the government school system by empowering communities, building partnerships, influencing policy and legislation, supporting learners and creating conducive learning environments in community schools.”