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Zambia: Newsline

Former head of education to lead CAMFED Zambia

©CAMFED International/Mark Read
8 March 2007 - The leading champion for girls’ education in Zambia has been named as the new Executive Director of the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in Zambia. Barbara Chilangwa is highly respected across sub-Saharan Africa for implementing wide-ranging education reforms to help more girls get into school during her tenure as Zambia’s Permanent Secretary of Education.

As the head of Zambia’s education ministry, Mrs Chilangwa spearheaded a drive to get more children – especially girls – into primary school. A former teacher with 33 years of experience in the field of education and a long-term perspective on the challenges facing Zambia’s education system, she prides herself in taking a hands-on approach, working with students, teachers and parents to fully understand the situation in schools.

“She is seen as a driving force in the region for what she has achieved,” said Lucy Lake, CAMFED’s Deputy Executive Director and Director of Programmes. “Barbara’s greatest strength is her activism and determination to get real results for girls. The lives of thousands of girls have been changed by her work.”

Mrs Chilangwa was instrumental in inviting CAMFED to set up a programme for girls in Zambia in 2001. Since then, she has been a key supporter of CAMFED’s work in the region and helped to pave the way for CAMFED to expand across rural Zambia. In 2006, more than 27,000 girls and vulnerable boys benefited from CAMFED’s programme of educational support in Zambia. By 2010 that number is projected to rise to more than 312,000.

“Now is the real opportunity for CAMFED to scale up in Zambia,” said Lucy. “The foundation is already in place and, under Barbara’s leadership, we can really make huge strides towards getting more girls into school.”

Mrs Chilangwa trained as a teacher at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and taught English and history in a secondary school in urban areas of Zambia. For six years she worked in the classroom before she was promoted to deputy head teacher. Three years later she became a head teacher, then an inspector of schools. Eventually, she became Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Education and advanced to become Permanent Secretary, the senior post in the Ministry.

On her appointment to CAMFED, Mrs Chilangwa issued a call to action to local Zambian businesses to join in international efforts to improve opportunities for girls.

“I’m hoping I can use my experience and my knowledge of the Ministry of Education to make sure girls get a fairer deal,” she said. “The political will must go beyond words. There must be a lot of commitment to make sure that women are given the possibilities they deserve. I’d like to see more local businesses and politicians involved in making girls’ education a reality.”

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